Ellis Island History

The History of Ellis Island and Your Family Search

If your family search leads to Europe, make a stop at the
American Family Immigration History Center on Ellis Island in New York Harbor.

Prior to 1890, the individual states controlled their own immigration. In fact, Ellis Island was a fortification protecting New York Harbor during the War of 1812. The island changed ownership several times after the war, eventually deeded by the
State of New York to the federal government in 1890. The immigration center opened in 1892.

The first immigrant to pass through the new immigration center as a 15 year old Irish girl named Annie Moore. She was accompanied by her 2 brothers, and together they entered history and a new country.

The “Georgia Pine” reception center burned to the ground
June 14, 1897, taking with it thousands of immigration records.
On December 17, 1900 a new, fireproof, building opened with 2251 immigrants that first day!!

While New York was the most popular destination of the steamship lines, the ports of Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, New Orleans, and Savanna, also accepted thousands of future Americans. Although there is no guarantee that because your family came from Europe, they entered through Ellis Island, it is well worth a look and a very important piece of America history.