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, including most of the exhibits and both elevators, remain closed at this time. More »
Teacher Tool Kit
From primary sources, including photographs and oral history clips, to classroom props and activity sheets to learning more about one's ancestors, this tool kit was designed with teachers like you in mind. We hope you will be able to make them a positive and impactful part of your lesson with minimal time and cost. These resources will complement the lesson plans available to you through our website. Explore and use these resources, and if you have an idea for another tool you'd like to see listed here, e-mail us!
Primary & Secondary Sources
Primary sources and many secondary sources are powerful tools to help bring history alive for students. Original documents, objects, photographs, and other firsthand accounts help students better understand the past. This collection is meant to assist you in bringing priceless sources about Ellis Island in to the classroom. The items available here have been specifically selected to be useful in your classroom, either as part of a lesson plan or integrated into your curriculum.
Learning More about Your Ancestors
Learning about migration, immigration, and Ellis Island can make students wonder about their own ancestors. Questions like "When did my family come to America?" and "Where did they come from?" might start to circulate through the classroom. While a full genealogical search is usually outside the scope of the unit, some research can help students to learn about primary sources and may help them to better connect to the content being learned. Learn more now.
These cards are similar to those used at Ellis Island by park rangers presenting tours and school programs. During a medical examination, if immigrants had symptoms of certain medical conditions, they would be marked with chalk and detained in the Ellis Island hospital. Ten percent of the 12 million immigrants through Ellis Island would end up being marked with chalk and detained for a variety of reasons. This set includes many of the most common codes and can be used as part of a simulation or lesson plan. Be sure to laminate them for extra durability. View the set now and print or save as needed.
A variety of informational handouts and activity sheets for students in K-12 are available (many are also great resources for teachers). These sheets are about Ellis Island in general, the immigrant inspections of a century ago, naturalization and citizenship, and immigration statistics and census information. Please e-mail us with feedback. View the handouts now and print or save as needed.
Did You Know?
Although most immigrants processed at Ellis Island stayed between three and five hours, about 20% stayed overnight in dormitory rooms until their cases could be cleared. Many immigrants found these accommodations a big improvement over the severe conditions of traveling to America in "steerage".