Lesson Plan

Checking In

Black and white image of immigrants and officials in the Great Hall

Immigrants (center and right) and Legal Inspectors (left) in the Registry Room for the Legal Inspection.

NPS Photo

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Grade Level:
Kindergarten-Third Grade
Subject:
History, Social Studies
Duration:
30-35 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 36
Setting:
in the park

Overview

For many immigrants, the legal examination in the Registry Room represented the greatest challenge at Ellis Island. Immigrants needed to remember information they submitted weeks earlier right before the ship embarked for the United States. After arriving at Ellis Island, immigrants endured a medical inspection, and waited nervously for around five hours, before the legal examination was conducted.  In this activity, students will play an immigrant being questioned at Ellis Island.

Objective(s)

By the end of this activity, students will be able to:

• Describe some of the difficulties immigrants faced when processed at Ellis Island.
• Identify with some of the hopes and reservations (feelings) of immigrants arriving to the United States.
• Discuss some of the reasons why the American government questioned immigrants to be granted entry.

 

Background

Manifest Record:
Before immigrants got on board, the shipping company clerks recorded information from passengers that will be verified when arriving at Ellis Island. This extensive survey asked immigrants a list of approximately thirty different questions, ranging from a person's birth and occupation, to whether the passengers declared themselves to be insane or anarchists. Immigrant officials at Ellis Island referred to the responses of the manifest records for verification, often speed-firing nine-to-ten questions in sixty-seconds. Based on the answers, immigrants will either be admitted or be detained (held) for further questioning.

View actual manifests at http://www.ellisisland.org/.

A blank manifest record, resembling one that immigrant officials used at Ellis Island is available as part of this lesson and on the "For Teachers" page on the Ellis Island website.

Materials

  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Blank Manifest Record

Procedure

Vocabulary

Immigrant
Inspection
Legal Inspection
Inspector