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Interpreting the Evidence

Immigrants on Deck of Steamer, Ellis Island, c. 1925

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Immigrants on Deck of Steamer, Ellis Island, c. 1925 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Immigrants on the deck of a steamer awaiting debarkation at Ellis Island, circa 1925.
Historical Context
Ellis Island is located off the coast of New York City, not far from the Statue of Liberty.  From 1892 to 1924, Ellis Island received thousands of immigrants each day.  People from all over the world came to America looking for a better life.  Ellis Island is where immigrants were checked for diseases and disabilities, because either of these would have prevented an immigrant from staying in America.  In 1954, Ellis Island was closed due to a decline in immigration that started with immigration restrictions in the 1920s.
Essential Question
Why do people immigrate to a new country?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain why these individuals are immigrating to America.
Historical Challenges
Make a record of your family's history during their journey to America. Find out why your ancestors decided to make the grueling trip to America.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Make a graph that shows the countries from which the ancestors of the children of your classmates came from.
Science: What are some of the diseases that the immigrants to Ellis Island might have had?
English Language Arts: Make a diary entry of a passenger’s trip on the boat ride to America.