National Ellis Island Family History Day

Family posing in front of the Statue of Liberty, wearing vintage clothing, 1950s New York City background..
National ellis island family history day illustration

Hey there, history lovers! Today, let's dive into the captivating world of National Ellis Island Family History Day. Get ready to uncover fascinating facts about this special day dedicated to celebrating our ancestral roots.

When is Ellis Island Family History Day?

It's national ellis island family history day on the 17th April.

Discovering the Origins

If you ever wanted to know more about your family history and the remarkable journey your ancestors took to become a part of the great American tapestry, National Ellis Island Family History Day is the perfect occasion for you. On this day, we honor the millions of immigrants who entered the United States through Ellis Island, a symbol of hope and a gateway to a new life.

Ellis Island, located in the harbor of New York City, was the busiest immigration station in the country from 1892 to 1954. It processed over 12 million immigrants, providing them with their first glimpses of the land of dreams. The island witnessed both tears of joy and sorrow as families were reunited or bid farewell, leaving behind their old lives in pursuit of new opportunities.

Unraveling Your Family Ties

On this day, families across the nation come together to explore their genealogy and learn about their heritage. Websites like and offer a treasure trove of records, allowing individuals to trace their family trees and connect with long-lost relatives. So, grab your detective hat and start digging into your family history. Who knows? You might uncover a hidden ancestor who was a famous explorer or even a distant cousin who starred in a Hollywood movie!

Preserving the Past for the Future

National Ellis Island Family History Day also emphasizes the importance of preserving our family stories for future generations. It's a day to share and cherish those tales of bravery, resilience, and love that have been passed down from one generation to the next. Break out the old photo albums and record interviews with your grandparents or parents to create a family archive that will be treasured for years to come.

History behind the term 'Ellis Island Family History'


Immigration Act of 1882

The Immigration Act of 1882 was passed by the U.S. Congress to regulate immigration into the United States. This marked the beginning of the formal process of immigration to the country. Ellis Island would go on to play a crucial role in the processing and screening of immigrants who arrived at the port of New York.


Opening of Ellis Island

In 1892, Ellis Island, located in New York Harbor, officially opened as an immigration station. It became the primary gateway for immigrants coming to the United States, processing millions of people over several decades. As the first step in the history of Ellis Island family history, this marked the beginning of the journey for many families seeking a better life in America.


First Fire Destroys Records

In 1897, a fire broke out at Ellis Island, resulting in the destruction of many immigration records. This event had a significant impact on tracing family histories, as numerous documents were lost. However, it also ignited efforts to improve record-keeping and preservation methods, leading to more organized and comprehensive archives in the following years.


Opening of Ellis Island

On January 1, 1892, Ellis Island opened its doors as the first federal immigration station in the United States. It replaced the previous Castle Garden Immigration Depot and became the primary gateway for immigrants arriving in New York City. Ellis Island would go on to process and inspect millions of immigrants in the coming years.


New Immigration Act of 1902

The year 1902 saw the passage of the New Immigration Act, which required more detailed passenger manifest information to be recorded upon arrival. This included immigrants' names, ages, occupations, and countries of origin, making it easier for descendants to trace their family history. The act aimed to ensure a better understanding of immigration patterns and assist future genealogical research.


Construction of the Main Building

In 1897, construction of the Main Building on Ellis Island began. The Main Building, also known as the Immigration Station, was designed to handle the increasing number of immigrants arriving at the port. It became an iconic symbol of Ellis Island and housed various facilities for processing immigrants such as medical examinations and legal inspections.


Immigration Restriction Act of 1924

In 1924, the Immigration Act of 1924, also known as the Johnson-Reed Act, was enacted. This legislation significantly limited immigration to the United States, imposing strict quotas based on nationality. While this act reduced the number of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, it highlighted the importance of preserving existing family histories and sparked a renewed interest in exploring ancestral roots among descendants of earlier immigrants.


Immigrant Family Reunification

By the early 1900s, Ellis Island became a place where immigrant families were reunited. Many immigrants who had arrived earlier sent for their family members to join them in the United States. Ellis Island facilitated the process of verifying relationships and reuniting families, creating a sense of hope and relief for many immigrants.


Immigration Act of 1924

The Immigration Act of 1924, also known as the Johnson-Reed Act, established stricter immigration quotas and restrictions. This marked a turning point for Ellis Island, as immigration to the United States significantly decreased. The role of Ellis Island as a major immigration processing center started to decline.


End of Ellis Island Immigration Operations

By 1965, Ellis Island had ceased functioning as an immigration station due to changing immigration policies and the introduction of air travel. However, its historical significance remained, and efforts were made to preserve the site as a symbol of American immigration history. As the processing center for millions of immigrants, Ellis Island played a crucial role in shaping the family histories of countless individuals and generations.


Closure of Ellis Island

On November 12, 1954, Ellis Island officially closed its doors as an immigration processing center. By this time, air travel had become the preferred mode of transportation, and immigration procedures were handled at airports. Ellis Island remained dormant for several years before being reopened in 1990 as a museum and national landmark, preserving the history of immigration to the United States.

Did you know?

Did you know that the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island was Annie Moore from Ireland? She arrived on January 1, 1892, and was greeted with a $10 gold piece as a symbolic gesture of welcome.


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First identified

17th April 2015

Most mentioned on

17th April 2017

Total mentions


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