Thursday, July 5, 2012

The IMMIGRATION History Centre, Ellis Island.

The American Family Immigration History Centre - at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum

On April 17, 2001, a celebration was held at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, to mark the opening of the American Family Immigration History Centre [AFIHC], which is located within the museum itself on Ellis Island. 
Between 1892 and 1924, over 22 million people, both passengers and ships' crew members, arrived in the United States of America, passing through the point of entry known as Ellis Island.
This research facility allows visitors to the museum to search the exceptional collection of of over 25 million passenger arrival records which are housed in the Ellis Island Archives. These records are also available to search online, however, a visit to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is a most worthwhile experience and the research facility serves to enhances the visit and the 'immigrant experience'.

Passport of an Immigrant who entered America through Ellis Island

Before arriving at the Immigration History Centre, located on the ground floor of the Museum, it is a good idea to have collected as much information about your ancestor as possible, such as name, country of origin and approximate age at the time of arrival. After giving your name to an attendant at the main counter,  you will be set up at a computer station where you will be able to search passenger records, view original ships manifests and view and order images of the ships on which your ancestors arrived in America. 
Although I had previously researched my own ancestors who passed journeyed through Ellis Island online from Australia, I was excited to experience the search at the American Family Immigration History centre as a part of the whole Ellis Island Museum experience.  Below is pictured the the computer station at which I conducted my search for ancestors and relatives who journeyed through Ellis Island to make a new life in America. 

One of the the Computer Stations at the AFIHC

Searching for my Great Aunt, Margaret Smith from Glasgow

A ship's manifest with passenger's names, ages and other details.

Results of my search for a GAIR ancestor.

As you find information about your ancestors you may save your searches. Copies of Ships Manifests are available free of charge at the end of your search and for a small fee, a printout of the image of the ship on which your ancestor arrived at Ellis Island can be copied for you.

Visitors to the Family Immigration Centre.

Here, you can collect your free printout of your ancestors passenger details.

When searching for ancestors, whether in the Immigration History Centre or on the Ellis Island website  you are able to set up your own Ellis Island File. In this file you can save searches and copies of ships manifests as well as images of the ships on which your ancestors travelled. If you are searching in person on Ellis Island at the American Family Immigration History Centre you will receive free of charge one document with the details from your ancestor's passenger manifest. For a small fee you can order and take home a printout of the image of the ship as well. There are a range of frames and other ways in which to present your certificates and images available at the centre, although if, like myself, you are travelling, you might prefer to place them in a cylinder which the centre  can also make available. 

My Certificate for Robert Crail

Information about the Ship on which Robert Crail travelled.

I chose to print out information about one of my husband's relatives, Robert Crail, who immigrated to America in 1920. Robert arrived at Ellis Island on February, 25, 1920 on board the  Kaiserin Augusta Victoria. Above are the details from the ships manifest which informed me that he left from Liverpool, England and that Robert was Irish. A second certificate provided me with interesting information about the ship itself. I also received a certificate of authenticity along with a good quality image of the ship, Kaiserin Augusta Victoria. If you happen to be travelling to New York,  I would certainly recommend a visit to the Ellis Island Museum and The American Family Immigration History centre. 

Kaiserin Augusta Victoria

Certificate of Authenticity

An Image on the Computer Screen during the Tutorial

Model of the Ellis Island Museum in the restored Immigration Centre

My Tickets for a great day at the Ellis Island Museum and IMMIGRATION History Centre.


  1. Thanks for the mini-tour of a museum that I may never be able to visit in person.

  2. We have no need to visit as you've done such a great job with your virtual tour. Thanks, Sharn.

  3. Hi Sharn

    I have nominated you for the Illuminating Blogger Award

    My post



  4. Thankyou Merron Riddiford, for yor kind nomination. Very much appreciated, Sharn

  5. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.