16 April 2007

April 17, 1907: Ellis Island's busiest day

Today is the 100th anniversary of the largest single day of U.S. immigration - 11,500 people passed through Ellis Island on April 17, 1907. Nearly 1.3 million immigrants arrived in the U.S. that year; some 80% arrived at Ellis Island in what was the busiest year in its 60-year history.

In honor of this important milestone, Ancestry.com is offering free access through April 30 to the entire U.S. Passenger List Collection, which includes "more than 100 million names of people who arrived at more than 100 U.S. ports of entry between 1820 and 1960."

If you don't already have an Ancestry subscription, this is a great opportunity to see how useful this and other databases can be to your research. The price is right!

The site also offers an interactive multimedia tour of the national landmark.

Passenger lists provide essential information of each family's unique history. The types of data in each record depend on the date and and port of entry.

For the anniversary story of one family, click here . Here's an excerpt:

"Like most immigrants coming to America in the early 20th century, Mulfeld's grandmother and her four children entered the New World through Ellis Island, a small stretch of land off the coast of New York. Here immigrants bought train tickets for cities across America. Here they traded their drakhmas, liras, or rubles for dollars. And here they waited to be given permission to enter the United States.

"Ellis Island was their first connection to the other side," said Mulfeld, 60, an Internet entrepreneur. "That's where we got our start."

It was a Saturday afternoon, and Mulfeld's grandfather - who had been in America for five years - stood waiting for the ship carrying his wife and four children (including Stanley's mother) to arrive. The ship arrived from Paris, where the family was delayed on their yearlong journey from a small town outside Kiev."

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