• 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 remain closed at this time. The museum's artifacts remain in off-site storage. More »



A group of nurses standing outside the hospital complex c. 1920.

National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM

The nurses at Ellis Island were employed by the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). Ellis Island's nurses were assigned to the general hospital wards and the contagious disease wards. In 1913, there were over 25 nurses employed in the hospitals. They worked under the supervision of the doctors, as well as their own hierarchy of chief and head nurses.

A nurse outside rear of the the hospital complex, 1920.

National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM

A group of nurses standing outside the hospital complex c. 1920.

A group of nurses standing in front of the hospital complex, c. 1920. Note the Main Building in the background.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM


Nurses Morse and Upham (back row left to right) and nurses Burnham and Perry (front row left to right) posing outside the hospital complex in May of 1918.

National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM

Both female and male nurses were required to live on the island and were assigned separate quarters.
According to USPHS regulations, all nurses visiting New York or New Jersey during their off-duty hours were required to return to Ellis Island no later than the 12:00 am staff boat.

Nurse Colligan

Nurse Jennie "Mother" Colligan with a young patient on Ellis Island, c. 1920.

National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM

Nurse Jennie Colligan (born 1872)
Nurse Jennie Colligan, the daughter of Irish immigrants Barney and Mary Colligan, worked at the Ellis Island Hospital from 1900 to the 1920's. Recalled as a kind-hearted woman, she was called "Mother" by her co-workers. Nurse Colligan spent most of her time on Ellis Island working day and night shifts in the Women's Wards and Children's Wards of the hospital. She finished her career as senior nurse at the United States Veteran's Hospital in Franklin County, New York in the Depression years of the 1930's.

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...