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April 4, 2014
9781421413686
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April 23, 2014
9781421413693
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Encountering Ellis Island

How European Immigrants Entered America

America is famously known as a nation of immigrants. Millions of Europeans journeyed to the United States in the peak years of 1892–1924, and Ellis Island, New York, is where the great majority landed. Ellis Island opened in 1892 with the goal of placing immigration under the control of the federal government and systematizing the entry process. Encountering Ellis Island introduces readers to the ways in which the principal nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American portal for Europeans worked in practice, with some comparison to Angel Island, the main entry point for Asian immigrants.

What happened along the journey? How did the processing of so many people work? What were the reactions of the newly arrived to the process (and threats) of inspection, delays, hospitalization, detention, and deportation? How did immigration officials attempt to protect the country from diseased or "unfit" newcomers, and how did these definitions take shape and change? What happened to people who failed screening? And how, at the journey's end, did immigrants respond to admission to their new homeland?

Ronald H. Bayor, a senior scholar in immigrant and urban studies, gives voice to both immigrants and Island workers to offer perspectives on the human experience and institutional imperatives associated with the arrival experience. Drawing on firsthand accounts from, and interviews with, immigrants, doctors, inspectors, aid workers, and interpreters, Bayor paints a vivid and sometimes troubling portrait of the immigration process.

In reality, Ellis Island had many liabilities as well as assets. Corruption was rife. Immigrants with medical issues occasionally faced a hostile staff. Some families, on the other hand, reunited in great joy and found relief at their journey's end.

Encountering Ellis Island lays bare the profound and sometimes-victorious story of people chasing the American Dream: leaving everything behind, facing a new language and a new culture, and starting a new American life.

About the Author

Ronald H. Bayor is a professor emeritus of history at the Georgia Institute of Technology and former president of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society. He is author of Neighbors in Conflict: The Irish, Germans, Jews, and Italians of New York City, 1929–1941, and coeditor of The New York Irish, both published by Johns Hopkins.

Reviews

"Bayor (Neighbors in Conflict), former president of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, fills his quick-moving narrative with dozens of oral and written accounts of those who experienced the 'Island of Hope, Island of Tears' in their quest for the American dream."—Publishers Weekly

"This slim volume is well researched. . . Students will find this a useful addition to their bibliography."—Library Journal

"In elegant prose in 142 pages (a remarkable achievement), Bayor (emer., Georgia Institute of Technology) includes painful and positive experiences of immigrants and employees on Ellis and Angel Islands, stories representing 20 million new Americans between 1892 and 1924, and those rejected for entry . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

"Bound to pique students' curiosity and provoke questions about both immigration law and history, Encountering Ellis Island promises to be a useful introductory text that undergraduate students will find engaging and accessible."—Journal of American Ethnic History

"Encountering Ellis Island is a great book. . .[that] does a great job synthesizing historiography and combining it with primary sources, especially memoirs and oral histories."—The Historian

"Encountering Ellis Island is an accessible, succinct, and easy-to-read book. It speaks to several fields of study and can easily be adopted in courses focusing on U.S. immigration history and the immigrant experience and those dealing with progressivism, the Gilded Age, and the social and cultural history of the United States in the twentieth century."—Italian American Review

9781421413686 : encountering-ellis-island-bayor
Paperback / softback
184 Pages
$25.00 USD
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