Ellis Island Arrival Video: Early 1900s

Source: http://www.history.com/topics/ellis-island/videos#arrival-at-ellis-island

In order to begin to better understand what immigration was like in the past, I was curious to hear immigrants discuss their experiences. In a video found on the History Channel’s website, immigrants from the early 1900s reflected on the moment when they first arrived to America, recalling their emotions during that time. During the early and mid-1900s, more than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island. The first thing that they could see was the Statue of Liberty. It was the sign that they had made it. The immigrants interviewed in the video recall the screaming and crying that occurred once they could see the Statue of Liberty. It was a moment unlike any other, because it was an affirmation that they were about to experience firsthand America’s reputation as the “land of the free and the home of the brave”.

Furthermore, to the immigrants, the Statue of Liberty embodied an actual person; they desired her acceptance. Immigrants perceived the Statue of Liberty as welcoming, which contributed to their extreme excitement as they arrived to America. The fact that the Statue of Liberty faced the incoming ships with her back turned to America exhibited her acceptance of the immigrants. In listening to the stories of immigrants from the past, it is evident that their own opinions on immigration erred on the side of positivity. They were hopeful and exhilarated by the possibility of a new life.

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One response to “Ellis Island Arrival Video: Early 1900s

  • kaehart

    How would the immigrant officers working at Ellis Island respond to the arrival of many immigrants during the early 1900s? I would be curious to hear an interview regarding their thoughts and emotions at the time.

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