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Ellis Island: A New Place for New Beginnings

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“For Sorting Newcomers,” New-York Tribune (New York, NY), July 15, 1900.

On January 1, 1892, Ellis Island began welcoming immigrants along its shores at the first federal immigration station. The iconic building that stands there today, known as a symbol of history and new beginnings, is still visited by thousands of people each year. Between 1892 and 1954, over twelve million immigrants came through the station to the United States, starting new lives for their families in this country. As you begin the new year with resolutions and warm feelings from the holidays, you might also start looking back at your family and your own ancestral beginnings.

You can learn about the opening of Ellis Island and the grand station that was built in 1900, in our historic newspapers in Chronicling America.  But those newspapers also hold the key for many people to learning more about their families. Are you interested in doing genealogical research? Have you searched for the names of your ancestors in Chronicling America yet? Using the Advanced Search tab offers a number of ways to narrow down a search to find someone’s name.

“The Unprecedented Rush of Immigrants at Ellis Island,” New-York Tribune (New York, NY), March 24, 1905.

While we do not hold the records from Ellis Island here at the Library (you can find them online here), we have a lot of other resources that can help you with your research. Newspapers are especially rich with genealogical data. Birth announcements and obituaries help people to find the bookends of their family members’ lives.

“Social Curtain is Lowered as Rush of June Weddings Reaches Record Climax,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), June 30, 1940.
“Lovely Brides Choose Indian Summer for Weddings,” The Detroit Tribune (Detroit, MI), October 25, 1947.









But you can also find wedding announcements, lists of arrivals and departures from ships, advertisements for family stores, and more! For example, was your family a part of one the biggest family reunions in the country?

“Largest Family Reunion Expected to Draw 60,000,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), August 13, 1939.

If you are curious and want help getting started, you should contact us! Chronicling America is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. We have additional research databases and hundreds of other newspapers that haven’t been digitized yet. And if you want help with genealogy more broadly, take a look at the great resources provided by our Local History & Genealogy experts!

Additional resources:

Topics in Chronicling America – Ellis Island

Passenger Search. The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

Today in History – January 1: “Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free”



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