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?
Since the passage of the "Steerage Act of 1819", passenger manifests have been required for all arriving vessels to be delivered to the U.S. Government and reported to Congress. This document, used for inspection at Ellis Island, has become an important starting point in researching family history.