True Immigrant Tales: The Many Interpreters at Ellis Island

With thousands of immigrants were arriving daily, Ellis Island officials were hard pressed to find enough interpreters to process the many nationalities.  In 1911, Commissioner William Williams reported to his superior in Washington on how many interpreters knew how many languages and pleaded for more multi-lingual personnel: “Languages known by interpreters: Arabic (2), Albanian (2), … More True Immigrant Tales: The Many Interpreters at Ellis Island

True Immigrant Tales: After Ellis Island

The travail for immigrants wasn’t limited to the journey and Ellis Island processing. They could still be exploited and/or treated harshly before reaching their final destination as this 1910 report to the Presidential Commission on Immigration reveals. “At Ellis Island, the inspection by the doctors and the officers of the Immigration Service was quickly completed.  … More True Immigrant Tales: After Ellis Island

True Immigrant Tales: American Men Did Not Wear Beards

[In 1907 at age 10, Edward Corsi arrived with his family at Ellis Island. Twenty-four years later in 1931, President Herbert Hoover would appoint him as Commission of Immigration at the Port of New York. Three years after that, after leaving the Immigration and Naturalization Service, he wrote him memoirs. This is an excerpt from … More True Immigrant Tales: American Men Did Not Wear Beards

True Immigrant Tales: “Are you a polygamist?”

[In 1913, Scottish travel writer Stephen Graham (1884-1975) left Liverpool, England, as a steerage passenger. This is another excerpt from his book, With Poor Immigrants to America (1914). In the previous installment, he described events leading up to his inspection at Ellis Island. Here, he tells of his observations on the island itself.] “Once more, … More True Immigrant Tales: “Are you a polygamist?”

True Immigrant Tales: “It Was the Tombstone of Columbus”

[In 1913, Scottish travel writer Stephen Graham (1884-1975) left Liverpool, England, as a steerage passenger. This is an excerpt from his book, With Poor Immigrants to America (1914), in which he described events leading up to his inspection at Ellis Island.]                             … More True Immigrant Tales: “It Was the Tombstone of Columbus”

True Immigrant Tales: Waiting Without Food and Water

[This is Part 2 of American journal Broughton Brandenburg’s account of a 1903 steamship voyage with immigrants in steerage, taken from his book, Imported Americans.] “. . . In mid-afternoon. . . when we reached the slip at Ellis Island we merely tied up, for there were many barge-loads ahead of us, and we waited our … More True Immigrant Tales: Waiting Without Food and Water

True Immigrant Tales: Reaching the Promised Land

[American journalist Broughton Brandenburg traveled on a German steamship with Italian immigrants in October 1903 and wrote about his observations in his book, Imported Americans.  This is part of his account.] “Sunday fell on the 11th, and it was a pleasant day till afternoon, when it began to get rough. The ship’s band was sent … More True Immigrant Tales: Reaching the Promised Land