Immigrant Aid Worker
Library of Congress
Throughout the years, numerous organizations offered aid to immigrants at Ellis Island. Many of these immigrant aid societies maintained permanent representatives on Ellis Island. Known under several titles, including missionary, chaplain, agent, port worker, matron, and social worker, the dedicated men and women of these organizations provided many things, from counseling, guidance, information, translation, money, food, clothing, reading material, gifts, and religious instruction and services.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
Mrs. Ludmila Kuchar Foxlee was one of the best-known social workers on Ellis Island. Hired by the Y.W.C.A. following the end of the First World War, she was employed at the station from 1920 to 1937. Foxlee made her mark by helping thousands of detained European immigrants of the Christian faith - Protestants, Eastern Orthodox and Catholics. Being a Czech immigrant herself (1890 at the age of 4), Ludmila Kuchar Foxlee understood and appreciated the cultural values, customs and traditions of these newcomers.
Foxlee kept meticulous records and handled an extraordinary number of cases. In the mid 1920's, she caught the attention of the press by posing with newly arrived immigrants in colorful folk costumes and then immediately afterward in stylish American clothes. In this way, she demonstrated the first step many immigrants took to assimilate to their new country. A lively singer and entertainer, she also helped to organize and run the Ellis Island Annual Christmas parties and other festivities set up for detainees and deportees.
Did You Know?
Many government agencies have administered the Ellis Island immigration depot. The Bureau of Immigration, later called the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS), inspected immigrants. The agency was restructured in 2003 under the new Department of Homeland Security and is now 3 entities : U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Citizenship and Immigration Services.