Ellis Island Day

Ellis Island Day is observed next on Wednesday, January 1st, 2025 (202 days from today).

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The origin of Ellis Island

Ellis Island is a historical site that opened in 1892, also known as a station of immigration, the purpose it served for more than 60 years until it closed in 1954. Located at the beginning of Hudson River between New York and New Jersey, Ellis Island saw millions of new immigrants pass through its doorway. In fact, it has been estimated that nearly 40 percent of all current U.S. people can follow at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island.

Ellis Island Museum of Immigration

The passage of the Immigrant Quota Act of 1921 and the National Origins Act of 1924, which limited the number and nationality of immigrants allowed into the United States, effectively put an end to the era of mass immigration into New York. At this point, fewer immigrants began to be disposed of on their arriving ships, with Ellis Island serving primarily as a temporary detainment center.

From 1925 to the closing of Ellis Island in 1954, only 2.3 million immigrants passed through the port of New York City, still more than half of all immigrants entering the United States.

Ellis Island was opened in 1976. Today, tourist can visit the Ellis Island Museum of Immigration in the restored Main Arrivals Hall and trace their ancestors through millions of immigration records published in 2001.

In this way, Ellis Island becomes a central destination for millions of Americans seeking a glimpse of their country’s history, and in many cases, their own family’s story.


The First Arrival

On January 1, 1892, Annie Moore, a teenager from County Cork, Ireland, became the first person admitted to the new immigration station on Ellis Island. On that opening day, she received a greeting from officials and a $10.00 piece of gold. Annie with her two younger brothers traveled to New York aboard the S.S. Nevada, which left Queenstown, Ireland, on December 20, 1891 and arrived in New York on the evening of December 31. Once being disposed, the children were reunited with their parents, who were already living in New York.

Beware the Buttonhook Men

Doctors checked those passing through Ellis Island for more than 60 diseases and disabilities that might disqualify them from entry into the United States. Those suspected of being afflicted with a having a disease or disability were marked with chalk and detained for closer examination. All immigrants were checked closely for trachoma, a contagious eye condition that caused more detainments and deportations than any other ailment. To check for trachoma, the examiner used a buttonhook to turn each immigrant’s eyelids inside out, a procedure remembered by many Ellis Island arrivals as particularly painful and terrifying.


Ellis Island Day has been observed annually on January 1st.


Sunday, January 1st, 2023

Monday, January 1st, 2024

Wednesday, January 1st, 2025

Thursday, January 1st, 2026

Friday, January 1st, 2027

Also on Wednesday, January 1st, 2025

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