Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Ellis Island

After visiting Steven Heller, we decided to go on a trip to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Ellis Island made a big impression on me, I could write about it all day! I thought that it was really significant to have this monument to racial diversity of America, and in particular New York. One statistic stated that when immigration was at its peak during the later 1800s up to 70% of the New York population was made of immigrants or the children of immigrants. There was a whole area dedicated to the statistical history of immigration and the impact this has had on today's population. 100 million people in the USA can trace back an ancestor that traveled through Ellis Island. Among all the sad and fascinating stories were rooms full of amazing artifacts and personal items. The above photos detail some of the tests that immigrants would have had to pass in order to enter the country.
From top:
1. Mental ability was tested via a series of logic and aptitude tests. The top photo shows children's drawings of diamonds, copied off a diagram. For some children it would have been the first time they had held a pencil.
2. Medical records. Immigrants could be sent home if they had chronic or infectious diseases. Many patients spent weeks in the large hospital on Ellis Island recovering before being able to join their families, who were also detained on the Island.
3. Literacy tests. As many immigrants could not speak or read English, literacy tests had to be carried out via an interpreter.
4. The standard eye test adapted for people who could not read, or whose native language did not contain the standard English/European alphabet (eg Arabic, Chinese etc)

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