Annie Moore From Ireland
statue in Cobh, County Cork
(click to make picture larger)
On New Year's Day, 1892, the first shipload of immigrants approached American's new reception facility at Ellis Island, in New York's harbor. The first person down the gangplank was an Austrian man. He politely stepped back in deference to a 15 year old Irish girl named Annie Moore, making her the first immigrant to enter the United States through Ellis Island. In at least two respects, this incident was symbolically appropriate.
First of all, it had been the Irish who primed American society for the waves of immigrants from many other lands who were to pass through Ellis Island into the New World.
And second, Annie Moore
represented a feature of Irish immigration unique among all other
immigrant groups. Of all the countries that sent immigrants to
America in the late 19th and 20th centuries, Ireland was the only one to
send as many women as men. During several decades Irish female
immigrants actually outnumber males, in stark contrast to the migrations
of Italians, Poles, Hungarians and Greeks, among whom males overwhelmingly
Plaque in Cobh, County Cork
(click to make larger)
Four out of ten Americans can trace their heritage via Ellis Island. Like the Statue of Liberty, it has been a powerfully evocative symbol to generations of immigrants.
Ellis Island opened in 1892
in the midst of an industrialization in the United states that drew eager
workers from dozens of foreign nations; at its height in 1907, more than
one million people came through its doors. It decline began shortly
after World War I, when Congress imposed severe restrictions on
immigration, reflecting the attitudes of a society grown wary of
foreigners. After 1924, immigration slowed to a trickle and Ellis
Island fell into disuse. It was closed in 1954.
Thanks to Janet Sandberg for contributing the Cobh pictures.
Ellis Island books at Amazon
If Your Name Was
Changed at Ellis Island
I Was Dreaming to Come to America: Memories from the Ellis Island Oral History Project
Journey to Ellis Island
Ellis Island Website
Searching Ellis Island
Passengers Made Easy
using Stephen Morse's forms
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