Ellis Island was the entry for millions of immigrants to the United States between 1892 and 1954. There have been numerous books, documentaries, and movies made about the experience of those immigrants. Now people tour the museum to get a feel for those people who were looking for their dreams.
It is possible to learn about this piece of history at Ellis Island. It is also possible to do a search for your own immigrant ancestors.
My family all came here long before Ellis Island was opened but my husband has ancestors who came through that New York port. One of them was Francesco Belmonte. He arrived in the U.S. in 1903 from Italy. He was born in 1880 and married Vicenza Bartalucci. They lived out their lives and died in Queens, New York.
Not only is it possible to find the ship passenger list but a photo of the actual ship. How wonderful is that?
I recently read Pamela Redmond's The Possibility of You: A Novel. In the author's note she says she happened upon the Ellis Island site and found her own grandmother, Bridget McNulty, who she remembered as an old woman.
Ms. Redmond went on to question what life was like in New York for the twenty-two year old Bridget. She learned a derogatory term for Irish servants of the time was "Bridgets." The questions led to more research and in the end a book.
Writers must always be open to ideas. Family historians are always searching for more information; more about each ancestor and a step back in time. Both must keep their eyes and their minds open.