Island of Hope, Island of Tears Documentary Film

Island of Hope, Island of Tears Poster; includes film details and a photo of an immigrant family during their journey.

Island of Hope, Island of Tears Poster

Students of all ages can watch "Island of Hope, Island of Tears." This award-winning documentary film reveals how and why millions of immigrants journeyed across the world to Ellis Island, hoping for a better life for themselves and their descendants. This free program includes a 5-minute ranger talk followed by the 30-minute documentary. Seats are on a first-come first-served basis to all visitors, and showtimes start every half hour with a maximum limit of 140 people per showing.

You can access this film online at www.archive.org/details/gov.ntis.ava15996vnb1 to prepare for the visit and can even have your students watch this film in preparation for the field trip.

While this program does not have a formal Teacher's Guide, the following questions can help students begin to think about immigration a century ago. Please note that the theater is completely dark when the film is playing; we do not recommend that students be expected to physically answer questions on a worksheet during the film.

  • What conditions would make you want to leave your home forever?
  • If you had to carry everything you were bringing along, what would you pack?
  • What kinds of tests would you have to pass to be able to enter the United States as an immigrant?
  • If you didn't speak English, how would you get to your final destination?
  • Where would you go in the United States? Why?
  • What would you do for work in the United States? Why?

Additional ideas for introducing immigration and Ellis Island to your students may be found under "Curriculum Materials."

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