Escaping persecution, famine, and declining economic opportunities, millions of Europeans immigrated to America at the turn of the 20th century. From the time Ellis Island opened in 1882 to its closing in 1954, it processed some 12 million immigrants. The peak year of European immigration was in 1907, when 1.25 million people entered the country. By 1910, 13.5 million immigrants were living in the United States, and Eastern and Southern Europeans made up 70 percent of the immigrants entering the country.
Our study of Ellis Island and European Immigration in the 1900’s will expose us to the reasons so many fled their countries during this time period, their arrival and processing, and their settlement in communities such as the Lower East Side of New York. We will take field trips to both Ellis Island and the Tenement Museum, as well as a walking (and eating!) tour of the Lower East Side. Finally, we will prepare authentic immigrant identities and experience the annual 4th grade Ellis Island simulation.