• Immigrants awaiting inspection in front of Ellis Island's Main Building

    Ellis Island

    Part of Statue of Liberty National Monument NJ,NY

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  • Ellis Island is open on a limited basis while repairs continue.

    Ellis Island has reopened on a limited basis. Due to the nature of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, parts of the historic Main Building and museum remain closed at this time. The museum's artifacts remain in off-site storage. More »

Oral Histories for Your Classroom

This collection of oral history excerpts is from the Ellis Island Oral History Collection, which includes approximately 2,000 full interviews. The following audio clips (with accompanying transcripts) have been specifically selected to be useful in your classroom, either as part of a lesson plan from this website or integrated into your curriculum. For your convenience, both the audio file and the transcript can be accessed online and also downloaded and saved for use later without needing to be connected to the internet.

Trying New Foods

Immigrant Expectations

Traveling to America

Experience at Ellis Island

Holding onto Homeland Traditions

Adjusting to Life in America

Looking for ideas on how to utilize these oral histories in your classroom?

The Library of Congress' Using Primary Sources page for teachers contains steps for using primary sources in the classroom, teacher's guides, analysis tools, and other helpful information for teachers.

The National Archives' Getting Started with Primary Sources in the Classroom page for teachers contains information and resources about using primary sources, resources for National History Day, and links to "Today's Document" and "DocsTeach" online resources.

If you have any suggestions for other Oral History topics you would like to see available on this page, please e-mail us.

Did You Know?

Ellis Island's Distinctive Facade and Towers

Although Ellis Island is federal property and has always been historically considered in New York, the U.S. Supreme Court appointed a "Special Master" to mediate. The ruling in 1998 determined that the original island belongs to New York and the rest of the island, added after 1834, belongs to New Jersey.