This Month in History- May


May 1-7

Day Year Event
5 1892 The Geary Act is passed. It extended the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and added new requirements. The law required all Chinese residents of the US to carry a resident permit. Also, Chinese residents were not allowed to bear witness in court, and could not receive bail in habeas corpus proceedings.
6 1882 Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first significant restriction on free immigration in US history. The act excluded Chinese "skilled and unskilled laborers and Chinese employed in mining" from entering the country for ten years under penalty of imprisonment and deportation. The few Chinese non-laborers who wished to immigrate had to obtain certification from the Chinese government that they were qualified to immigrate, which tended to be difficult to prove.
1895 Rudolph Valentino born Rodolfo Alfonzo Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla in Italy. Entered Ellis Island in 1913. He traveled to Hollywood and starred in numerous films including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, The Eagle, and The Son of the Sheik.


May 8-14

Day Year Event
9 1914 Sixteen year old Italian boy Ettore Boiardi is processed at Ellis Island. After years working in restaurants, growing his reputation as a culinary master, Boiardi began selling his food nationally under the "Chef Boy-Ar-Dee" brand.
11 1888 Irving Berlin born Israel Isidor Beilin (later changed to Baline) in Russia (currently Belarus). Entered through Ellis Island in 1893. Berlin is known for writing many memorable songs including "God Bless America" and "White Christmas" and composing the score to the Broadway show "Mr. President."
1965 Lyndon B. Johnson added Ellis Island to the Statue of Liberty National Monument in Proclamation 3656. Johnson used the Antiquities Act to do so.
1995 Money for a bridge linking Ellis Island to New Jersey was removed from a Congressional spending bill. The bridge would have allowed visitors to walk to Ellis Island, rather than having to take a ferry.
12 1895 Jiddu Krishnamurti born in India. Entered Ellis Island in 1923. He is known for traveling the world and talking about concerns of daily life.


May 15-21

Day Year Event
18 1892 Ezio Pinza born in Italy. Entered through Ellis Island in 1942. He is known as an outstanding bass opera singer of the 20th century.
1897 Frank Capra, (Francesco Rosario Capra) born in Italy and entered Ellis Island in 1903. He is known for his career in the film industry which included directing, production, and writing. His film "It Happened One Night" was the first film to win all top five Oscars.
19 1921 President Warren G. Harding signs the Emergency Quota Act into law. The act limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted to 3% of the number of persons from that country living in the US in 1910. As a result, the number of immigrants processed at Ellis Island fell from 560,971 in 1921 to 209,778 in 1922. This law marks the end of America's "open door" immigration policy.


May 22-28

Day Year Event
24 1870 NY Governor John Hoffman signs legislation authorizing a bridge to be built from Staten Island to Bedloe's Island (now known as Liberty Island) and Ellis Island. The bridge would never be built.
1890 The munitions and powder stored at Ellis Island are removed and sent to Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island. This clears the way for Ellis Island's use as an immigration station, which would open in 1982.
1903 Five-year old boy Francesco Capra is processed at Ellis Island. He would later shorten his name to Frank Capra and go on to direct highly popular films of the 1930s and 1940s, including It's a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
25 1889 Igor Sikorsky born in Russia. Entered Ellis Island in 1919. He is known for designing and developing the first practical helicopter.
26 1886 Al Jolson born Asa Yoelson in Lithuania. Entered Ellis Island in 1894. An extremely well-known singer, comedian, and actor, he is known for having the leading role in first movie that was synchronized to sound.
1924 Congress passes the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act. The total number of immigrants allowed to enter the US is reduced from 357,803 in 1923-24 to 164,667 persons in 1924-25. The law also requires all immigrants to obtain a visa, issued by US consulates abroad. Most immigrants would thus not need to be inspected at Ellis Island.
1998 The Supreme Court rules 6 to 3 that Ellis Island belongs mostly to New Jersey. In a 1834 compact between the two states, New Jersey agreed that New York would have exclusive jurisdiction over the island. However, landfill had been added atop New Jersey waters to expand Ellis Island for the US as an immigration station. The filled land, created after the 1834 agreement, is in New Jersey according to the Supreme Court.
28 1976 Twenty-two years after the Immigration Service abandoned its famous property, formal opening ceremonies took place on Ellis Island. People would once again walk its famed halls during seasonal tours being offered in conjunction with the nation's bicentennial celebration.


May 29-31

Day Year Event
29 1903 Bob Hope born Leslie Townes Hope in England. Entered Ellis Island in 1908. He is in the Guinness Book of Records as "The Most Honored Entertainer." Other awards earned were Special, Honorary, and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Academy Awards and Lifetime Achievement Awards. He is also known for his tours with the USO.


Last updated: December 13, 2018

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