Emigrants [i.e. Immigrants] Landing at Ellis Island


Ellis Island was the gateway to American life for millions of immigrants from 1892 to 1954. This film, shot by prolific filmmaker, writer, producer, and director Alfred C. Abadie, was a production of Thomas A. Edison’s Edison Manufacturing Company. It was listed in a contemporary company catalog under the title “Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island” with the description: “Shows a large open barge loaded with people of every nationality, who have just arrived from Europe, disembarking at Ellis Island, N.Y.” The film opens with a view of the ferryboat William Myers, laden with passengers, approaching the immigration station. The vessel is docked, the gangway is placed, and the passengers are seen coming up the gangway. The film does not show the next stage of the immigration process facing the new arrivals. Entrants were interrogated–often by officials who could not speak their language–and given medical examinations. Many were quarantined or denied entrance after being labeled as diseased or “likely to become a public charge.”

Last updated: August 3, 2015