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The Procedures at Ellis Island

Learn about the detailed procedures

Baggage Carry 

The procedure to be taken through Ellis Island was long and stressful for passengers. Families would exit the steamship and enter the Baggage Room, located on the building main level.  Passengers were handed numbered identity badges.  Belongings such as carts, bags and treasure chests filled with a passengers essentials were left on the Baggage Room level and passengers followed their cue to the Registry Room located up the stairs so passengers could be inspected by medical and legal officers. Guards processed each person individually looking for shortness of breath, weakness walking or difficulty speaking.  

 

Health Evaluation 

The Registry Room also known at the time as, ‘The Great Hall’ was a beautiful, spacious area that was 200 feet long and 102 feet wide. It was in this room that passengers were told whether they could enter the country or be sent back to their original country.  Between the years of 1903 and 1914, a disease known as, ‘Trachoma’ that affected the eyes was a popular during this time. Should someone carry the disease upon arrival they were often sent back to their original country. Not only was there an eye evaluation but also a ‘six second check’, to determine if a passenger was physically or mentally ill.

 

The Legal Procedure 

In the same room where the physical checks were being conducted there was also the legal inspection. Twenty- nine questions were asked such as, ‘Where were you born?’, What is your occupation?, ‘Are you married?

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