• 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, including most of the exhibits and both elevators, remain closed at this time. More »

Primary Sources for your Classroom

Historic photograph of two young men who immigrated through Ellis Island in 1910 along with the ship's manifest their names appeared on.

Primary source collage of a historic photo and document.

NPS Photo

Primary 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 primary 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.

Two resources for both finding and using primary sources with students are the Library of Congress (LOC) and the National Archives (NARA). Each website has fantastic tools for teachers.

LOC's 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.

NARA's 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 primary sources you would like to see available on this page, please e-mail us.

Did You Know?

Angel Island aerial cropped2

From 1910 to 1940, the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay processed approximately 1 million Asian immigrants entering into the US, leading to it sometimes being referred to as "The Ellis Island of the West". Due to the restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, many immigrants spent years on the island, waiting for entry. Access to the island is by private boat or public ferry from San Francisco, Tiburon or Vallejo. Ferry services are reduced during the winter. More...