Since 1973, the Ellis Island Oral History Program has been dedicated to preserving the first-hand recollections of immigrants who passed through the Ellis Island immigration station between 1982 and 1954 and the employees who worked there.
Interviews with immigrants include a description of everyday life in the country of origin, family history, reasons for emigration, journey to New York, arrival and processing at Ellis Island, and adjustment to life in the United States.
Over the years, the collection has grown to approximately 2,000 interviews. The interviews represent immigrants from dozens of countries, former Immigration and Public Health Service employees, military personnel stationed at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty as well as people detained at Ellis Island during World War II until it closed in 1954. Approximately 900 of the Ellis Island Oral History interviews are available to researchers and interested members of the public in the Oral History Library, located on the third floor of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
People wishing to use the complete interviews, both as recordings or on-screen transcripts may do so by using the specially designed computer stations in this room. Simple instructions found on the computer screen assist the user with locating any desired interviews and pertinent information. These computers contain the oral history interviews only and do not contain general immigration records such as ship manifests, passports etc. Approximately twenty interviews are added yearly by full time and volunteer staff members. Each person interviewed receives a tape of the interview.
For further information about the Ellis Island Oral History Program, please write to: Oral History Program, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, New York City, NY, 10004 or call (646) 356-2159 and E-mail: STLI_Oral e-mail us