60 Years Ago, Ellis Island Closed Its Doors

Posted November 12, 2014 by Amanda | One Comment

Do you have any ancestors who came through Ellis Island? On November 12, 1954, Ellis Island closed its doors after welcoming 12 million immigrants to America.


Located in Upper New York Bay, Ellis Island served as the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States from 1892 – 1954. On January 1, 1892, a 17-year-old Irish girl named Annie Moore became the first immigrant to set foot through the famous immigration center. She was traveling with her two younger brothers, Anthony and Phillip, on the S.S. Nevada. All three were coming to the country to be reunited with their parents, who were already in New York City.

In its peak year of immigration, 3,000 – 5,000 travelers were processed every day. Today, an estimated 40 percent of Americans can trace their roots through Ellis Island.

In honor of the anniversary of its closing, check out these past photos from Ellis Island:


via Library of Congress

A new party landing at Ellis Island in 1902.

main_hall (2)

via New York Public Library

In the Main Hall, new arrivals sat on long benches as they waited. The 46-star American flag hanging from the balcony indicates that this photograph was taken between 1907-1912.


via New York Public Library

In this photo, immigrants are being registered at one end of the Main Hall. Contrary to popular belief, your ancestors’ names were probably not changed at Ellis Island. Inspectors checked passengers’ names against the ship’s passenger list or manifest – a list prepared before their arrival at Ellis Island.

immigration_station (2)

via New York Public Library

The Immigration station at Ellis Island. A ferry helped usher people to and from New York.

medical_inspection (2)

via New York Public Library

A medical inspection was given to all incoming immigrants.

pens (2)

via New York Public Library

People who passed the first inspection were kept in pens in the main hall.

money_exchange (2)

via New York Public Library

After arriving to America, immigrants line up to exchange money.

Do you have immigrant ancestors? Where did they travel from? Share your stories with us in the comments below!

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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