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July 20, 2016


Ellis Island and the American Immigrant Wall of Honor

Most everyone knows about Ellis Island. They know that it was the port in New York harbor where immigrants gained entry into the United States. Over 12 million immigrants entered the US between 1892 and 1954. It is estimated that about 40% of current citizens can trace at least one ancestor to Ellis Island. But there is so much more to know and learn.

The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. has a wonderful website that covers everything there is to know. One important feature for genealogists, is a search feature where you can search for your ancestor and the ship they were on. The National Park Service also has a great website and even has a virtual tour you can take. (Links at the bottom).

Used with Permission The of Statue Liberty Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

One of the exhibits on Ellis Island that is not very well-known is the American Immigrant Wall of Honor. In 1990, the Wall of Honor was unveiled with the first names of immigrants. The Wall of Honor is a permanent exhibit and is the only place in America where an individual can honor their family heritage at a National Monument. Almost every nationality is represented. Also represented are those who were forced to immigrate because of slavery, even the earliest settlers and the American Indian. There are “over 700,000 names memorialized on stainless steel panels, each measuring 4-feet tall by 2-feet wide. Each individual panel contains nearly 700 names. For most panels, names appear alphabetically in six columns.”

The Wall is located outside the Great Hall and overlooks the Lower Manhattan skyline. For a $150.00 contribution you can honor either a family or an individual. A wall panel reproduction can be purchased for $30.00, so if you are like us and have never been able to tour Ellis Island in person, you can have a copy of the panel.


Used with Permission by T
he Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island
Foundation, Inc.

I was able to trace my husband’s g-grandfather’s family to Ellis Island – twice. The first time was in 1893 from Russia, they returned to Russia in 1895. They immigrated the final time in 1903 when my husband’s grandfather was 2 months old.

They sailed on the SS Maine and arrived at Fire Island in New York Harbor from Bremen, Germany on October 31, 1903 and were then processed through Ellis Island. At that time, the New York Times published the arrivals of ships of immigrants so I was able to find the article detailing their arrival.

Several years ago, Lee and I added his G-grandfather’s family. They are listed as The Karl Seibel Family and the listing is on Panel 713. We received an Official Certificate of Registration documenting the addition to the Wall of Honor. I encourage everyone to participate. The donation not only pays for the inclusion on the Wall, but helps preserve the Island for future generations.

We haven’t been able to go tour Ellis Island yet, but hope someday we will be able to.


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