Ellis Island

The Ellis Island Immigration Museum stands as a constant reminder of our nation’s immigration history – the largest human migration in modern history. Between 1892 and 1954, 12 million immigrants were processed here. Follow their footsteps and journey from the Baggage Room, where immigrants dropped off all their worldly possessions; to the Registry Room, where they underwent medical and legal examinations; then on to the Staircase of Separation, which led to the ferryboats that transported immigrants granted admittance to either Manhattan or New Jersey.

Interesting Facts:

  • Today more than 40% (over 100 million) of all living Americans can trace their roots to an ancestor who came through Ellis Island.
  • On the American Immigrant Wall of Honor are the names of 420,000 individuals and families whose descendants have honored them by donating to the Ellis Island restoration project.
  • 98% of those processed at Ellis Island were granted admittance to America. The remaining 2% were sent back to their home countries.

All immigrants who passed through Ellis Island were given a medical exam. The doctor would mark with white chalk on the immigrants who were suspected of having infirmities.

  • The following is a sample of the short hand used by the physicians.
    an “X” marked high on the front of the right shoulder – suspected mental defects
  • an “X” marked lower on the right shoulder – suspicions of a deformity or disease
  • an “X” with a circle – some definite symptom had been detected
    “B” possible back problems, “E” eyes, “F” face, “Ft” feet, “H” heart, “L” lameness, “N” neck


Ellis Island – National Park Service

Article written by Sarah Wyland

Sarah Wyland
Sarah never gets in trouble for being on Facebook and Instagram at work, because its her job. As social media manager, she gets to tell the stories of travelers, teachers, and interesting places. Other titles she enjoys include dog mom to Knox, barre instructor, Crossfit athlete, avid reader, and world traveler.