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Immigration to Ellis Island

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What was the process the immigrants had to go through when they came to America?

Immigrants came to American in search of freedom and opportunity. They mostly came by steamship. Examinations and vaccinations of the immigrants needed to be done. Both immigrants and their baggage had to be disinfected before they could leave Ellis Island.

At the entrance to the Lower Bay of New York Harbor, the immigrants were inspected for contagious diseases like, smallpox, yellow fever, and measles. After which they were filed to the reception area. They had to climb three floors of stairs as medical officers watched them for signs of lameness, shortness of breath, heart conditions and mental conditions.

The next examination was called the eyelid lift. The doctors used a hook to lift the eyelids to look for trachoma. Trachoma is " an easily spread infection of the eye. Repeated occurrences scar the upper eyelid, eventually turning it inward. The eyelashes then scratch the cornea, leading to blindness." Chalk marks were put on their clothes to indicate what was wrong. A few were, Sc for scalp disease, G for goiter, K for hernia, L for lameness and S for senility.

The final test was to answer 29 questions including: name, sex, marital status, occupation, nationality, ability to read and write, race, physical and mental health, how much money they had, prison records, and if they were polygamists or anarchists.

When the immigrants passed these tests they could exchange their gold, silver and money for American money and buy railroad tickets to go anywhere they wanted in America. All these tests took between two to five hours to complete.

When the immigrants came to America they gained Individual Rights. The immigrants passed through Ellis Island they received the freedom and rights that they didn't obtain in their former country.



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