The Workers of Ellis Island
An Ellis Island worker conducting a trachoma exam.
Library of Congress
Ellis Island nurse Lillian Wheeler giving a child a bath.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
On a typical day at the Ellis Island Immigration Station, immigrants came face to face with inspectors, interpreters, nurses, doctors, social workers, and many others. As a large federal facility employing approximately five hundred employees at a time, Ellis Island was a well-organized workforce.
The complex work of processing thousands of immigrants a year required a full complement of staff. Some names are known; others remain anonymous, but all of them contributed to the primary function of the Immigration Station on Ellis Island -- to make sure that newcomers to the United States were legally and medically fit to enter the country.
Learn about the types of work performed on Ellis Island and some of the individual employees who worked in these jobs.
Did You Know?
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...