Order Code: FE189DV   
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Through rare archival film and photographs, interviews with immigrants and officials, and commentary by historians, this moving documentary shows Ellis Island as it appeared to the more than 12 million immigrants who teemed through its gates before its closure in 1954.

A rosy-cheeked Irish lass named Annie was the first newcomer processed at the flagship immigration depot on Ellis Island in 1892; she received a $10 gold piece in addition to the privilege of entering the United States. Part 1 provides an overview of immigration from colonial times through WWII. It surveys the reasons people left their homelands, the building of the Ellis Island facility, the fire that destroyed the first building, and management corruption. Part 2 details processing procedures (such as the dreaded blue chalk marks on coat lapels) and the challenges encountered by both immigrants and officials. Changing attitudes and restrictions are covered in Part 3, which also explores the legacy of immigrants in America. Narrated by Mandy Patinkin.

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History Channel


7 and up


Black-and-white and color

Run Time

Total time: 150 minutes