Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ellis Island Just Expanded It's Family History Reach

For many Americans, Ellis Island is synonymous with the immigration experience. And yet it didn't open until 1892 which means that if your ancestors arrived earlier, you may have felt like a visit to Ellis Island wouldn't apply to your family history research. All that is changing with the opening of the first phase of the Peopling of America Center.  Here's the scoop:

New York, NY (October 28, 2011) – Today, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and the National Park Service opened the first phase of the Peopling of America® Center, a major expansion of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which will explore arrivals before the Ellis Island Era. This 10,000 square foot experience focuses on the history of immigration from the Colonial Era  to the opening of Ellis Island in 1892. Interpretative graphics and poignant audio stories tell first-hand accounts of the immigrant’s journey—from making the trip and arriving in the United States to their struggle and survival after they arrived and efforts to build communities and ultimately a nation.

“Until now, our exhibits have centered on the years when Ellis Island was open,” said Stephen A. Briganti, the Foundation’s President and CEO. “Of course the history of migration to America goes back to our nation’s beginnings right up to today, so there were many people whose stories weren’t told. The Peopling of America® Center will fill an enormous gap in America’s understanding of its past, present, and future.”

Also unveiled today was the American Flag of Faces™, a large interactive video installation filled with a montage of images submitted by individuals of their families, their ancestors, or even themselves which illustrates the ever-changing American mosaic.  A living exhibit, Flag of Faces accepts photo submissions and can also be viewed at

The Center’s second phase, which will open in Spring 2013, will present a series of interactive multi-media exhibits that focus on the immigration experience from the closing of Ellis Island in 1954 to the present day, including a dynamic radiant globe that illustrates migration patterns throughout human history.  The Peopling of America® Center was designed by ESI Design and fabricated by Hadley Exhibits, Inc. For more information, visit

Here's an amateur video from YouTube providing a glimpse of the new exhibit...

1 comment:

Friend of Pogo said...

Even if your ancestors lived in America well before Ellis Island was an immigration entryway, don't discount it as a source of records. My grandparents and my father (all born in the United States with ancestors in the U.S. going back to the 1700s) show up in Ellis Island records when they came back into the U.S. after spending a year in Germany from 1919-1920 to help administer a relief program. I'm not sure if it's common or not to find records like this from Ellis Island.
- Margaret