Friday, March 09, 2007

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

This porcelain thimble is available for $7.95, plus S/H, from the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Ellis Island was a main port of entry for many European immigrants to New York and all of the United States from 1892 to 1954. In 1965 it became part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument (the Statue of Liberty is on nearby Liberty Island).

None of my ancestors came here through Ellis Island, but they all got here somehow. Some walked. Some sailed. Some were brought. My dearest friend's great-grandfather came through Ellis Island from Varese Ligure, Italy, in 1902. I found his name on the ship's manifest through the website, Ellis Island Online, run by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which raises funds for the repair, restoration, and maintenance of both monuments. They have a wonderful database, free to everybody, through which descendants of Ellis Island immigrants can search through over 25 million records for documentation of their ancestors' arrival in America. It's a very popular website and they get thousands of hits every day. The foundation is not publicly funded, so they need to raise money through memberships and outright donations, and by accepting submissions for The American Immigrant Wall of Honor ($150 to $15,000).

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