Ellis Island

Immigration on the East

Where is Ellis Island Located?

Ellis Island is located on the east coast in New York. Specifically, Ellis Island is located in New York Harbor. It was moved to the Harbor from Castle Garden.

Ethnicity of Immigrants Entering Ellis Island

Who Came Here and Why?

Between 1870 and 1920, approximately 20 million Europeans arrived in the United States. Before 1890, most immigrants came from countries in western and nothern Europe. After 1890, more immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe. Ellis Island was the major port of entry for Europeans. Immigrants came from countries such as Ireland, Germany, England, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Russia, etc. Many left to escape religious persecution, and rising populations in their native countries.
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Conditions of the Voyage to America

By the 1870's almost all immigrants traveled by steamship. The trip from Europe to approximately one week. Many immigrants traveled in steerage, the cheapest accomodations in a ships cargo holds. The immigrants were crowded together in the dark, because they were rarely allowed on the deck. They had difficulty breathing because of the lack of fresh air and unable to exercise because of the lack of adequate space. They often had to sleep in infested bunks and share toilets with many other passengers. Due to these conditions, disease spread quickly and some even died before reaching America! Those who did not die, had a difficult time passing inspections upon arrival at Ellis Island.
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Entrance Procedures

About 20% of immigrants at Ellis Island were detained for a day or more before being inspected. Only approximately 2% were denied entry. The processing of immigrants on Ellis Island was a tough ordeal. It took hours to inspect these immigrants and determine their eligibility. First, the European immigrants had to pass a physical examination by a doctor on site. Anyone with serious diseases, such as tuberculosis, were immediately sent home. Those who passed the physical exam were sent to a government inspector.

The government inspector checked their documents and questioned these immigrants to figure out wether they met the legal requirements for entering the United States of America. These requirements included proving they have never been convicted of a crime, demonstrating their work ability, and giving evidence of money possesion.

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Quality of Life for European-Americans

Similar to the Asian-Americans, these European immigrants had a difficult time securing work, and a place to live. Nativism made these basic necessities even harder for the European immigrants. Nativism is obvious favoritism towards native born Americans. This is interesting because no one in American is really native-born, since at one point our ancestors were all immigrants as well. Many of these native borns thought of their country as a melting pot, which is a mixture of people of different cultures and races who blended together.

European immigrants found it challenging to live in their new homeland because few people spoke their language, shared their culture, or practiced their religion. Because of these strong differences, many immigrants of the same ethnicity would form small communities in order to maintain their cultural identity. For example, the North End in Boston is a small community of Italian-Americans.

Stereotypes of European-Americans

Nativism, favoritism towards native-born Americans made life for immigrants very difficult. Specifically, the beginning of an anti-immigration sentiment. Many of these native born americans feared that immigrants would take their jobs because they would be willing to be paid less. Additionally, there were stereotypes given to these immigrant groups, which shows the dislike for immigrants. For example, many employers would not hire Irish workers because they were known for being drunks. This made life for Irish-American families challenging. Americans often viewed immigrants as inferior and the white Anglo-Saxon (German ancestors of the English) as superior.
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Danzer, Gerald A. The Americans: Reconstruction to the 21st Century. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 2005. Print.