Ellis Island
Copy words in RED
1880 - 1930
By the 1880's, steam power had shortened the journey to
America dramatically.
Immigrants poured in from around the world: from the
Middle East, the Mediterranean, Southern and Eastern
Europe, and down from Canada.
• Pre-1880s, most immigrants came from
Europe (English, Scots, Irish, Germans, &
• The door was wide open for Europeans - In
the 1880s alone, 9% of the total population
of Norway emigrated to America.
• By late 1800s, fewer northern Europeans
came because they found jobs in factories
and mills in Europe.
Steamships Cross the Ocean
• In the 1860s steamships had replaced
sailing ships as the best way to travel across
the Atlantic.
• Steamships were made of iron and then
• Steamships were strong, sturdy, and safe.
• Steamships made it possible for men to
come work for a few months, then return
Steamships cont.
• Some people were put to work to pay their
way on a steamship:
“The young man took us to a big ship and got us
work way down where the fires are. We had to
carry coal to the place where it could be thrown
on the fires. Francisco and I were very sick from
the great heat at first and lay on the coal for a
long time, but they threw water on us and made us
get up.” ~Rocco (young Italian immigrant)
Ellis Island: Gate to America
• Beginning in 1886: the Statue of Liberty greeted
• 1892: Ellis Island opened as first stop for most
immigrants crossing the Atlantic.
• Check-in Process:
Medical checkup
Asked Name, occupation, who paid your fare, can you read and write,
how much money do you have, have you ever been in prison or in the
poorhouse, where are you going, etc.
Many received new names – “American” names
• Most immigrants stayed – only 2% were sent home
Ellis Island
• One immigrant recalled
arriving at Ellis Island: "The
boat anchored at mid-bay
and then they tendered us on
the ship to Ellis Island… We
got off the boat…you got
your bag in your hand and
went right into the building
Ah, that day must have been
about five to six thousand
people. Jammed, I remember
it was August. Hot as a
pistol, and I'm wearing my
long johns, and my heavy
Irish tweed suit."
• Families often
immigrated together
during this era, although
young men frequently
came first to find work.
• Some of these then sent
for their wives, children,
and siblings; others
returned to their families
in Europe with their
saved wages.
• The experience for Asian
immigrants in this period
was quite different. In 1882
Congress passed the Chinese
Exclusion Act, severely
restricting immigration from
• Since earlier laws made it
difficult for those Chinese
immigrants who were
already here to bring over
their wives and families,
most Chinese communities
remained "bachelor
• The 1907 "Gentlemen's Agreement"
with Japan extended the
government's hostility towards Asian
workers and families.
• For thousands, the Angel Island
Immigration Station in San Francisco
Bay would be as close as they would
ever get to the American mainland.
Angel Island
Where they came from, 1880-1900
Northern &
Western Europe
Southern &
Eastern Europe
All Others
Where Immigrants Settled
• Immigrants settled where they could find work
• Work = mines, mills, factories
• ½ of immigrants settled in four industrial
states: Massachusetts, New York,
Pennsylvania, and Illinois (cities: Boston, New
York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago)
• If a relative helped pay for passage,
immigrants usually lived with them
• Led to ethnic neighborhoods with people
sharing similar cultures & backgrounds
Jobs for Immigrants
• If immigrants didn’t
have family members
or know anyone, they
might be sent back
• Sometimes they were
rescued by a Padrone
(labor boss)
• Every nationality (group
of people from the same
nation) had its version
of a padrone.
• Padrones found jobs for
immigrants and gave
them shelter and food.
• Workers then gave the
padrone a large part of
their wages.
Why they came to America
• For Mexicans victimized by the Revolution,
Europeans escaping religious persecution or
famine, and Armenians escaping the massacres
in Turkey, America provided refuge/safety.
• Russian Jews were especially in danger. Jews
had long been denied equal rights (limited
jobs, no education, limited housing)
• In 1881, Russian Czars encouraged pogroms –
organized robberies and massacres of Jews.
Importance of Education
• Another reason immigrants came was for
children to receive an education.
• American school system was growing faster
than some cities.
• Schools taught citizenship, proper social
behavior, and skills to earn a living
• 1870: cities and states began passing laws
requiring children to attend school until a
certain age.
• # of children attending school more than
Importance of Education cont.
• Teachers had difficulty educating children
from different backgrounds and with
different languages.
• A system of grades organized students by
• Standards were set for each grade.
• Marking system, courses, and textbooks
Immigrant Life
• Many workers held
jobs in unsafe
• Very dangerous!
(ex: 1911 Triangle
Shirtwaist Company
• 146 deaths
• Caused NYC to
establish rules to
protect workers
• Home conditions were
bad too
• Tenements: overcrowded
and unhealthy apartment
• Slums: any neighborhood
in a city that had these
unsafe conditions
• Piecework: working from
home & getting paid by
the # of objects made.
How many?
• Between 1880 and 1930 over 27 million people
entered the United States - about 20 million
through Ellis Island.
• But after outbreak of World War I in 1914,
American attitudes toward immigration began to
• Nationalism and suspicion of foreigners were on
the rise, and immigrants' loyalties were often called
into question.
• Through the early 20s, a series of laws was passed
to limit the flow of immigrants.
Ellis Island Pictures
Interesting Immigration Facts
• More than 31 million
• African immigrants
persons enter the United
have the highest high
States legally each year
school completion rate:
as visitors, students, and
temporary workers.
• One immigrant arrives
Over 500 million cross
every 35 seconds
the Canadian &
• There are more than 20
Mexican borders to
million refugees in the
conduct daily business
world today; 80% of
and/or to visit close
them are women &
family members.

Ellis Island - Chandler Unified School District