Thinking of my recent post on Liverpool, one of the things I mentioned was the fact that many European immigrants to the U.S.A. left from this port, it reminded me of a book I recently read.
Island of Hope, Island of Tears by David M. Brownstone, Irene M. Franck, and Douglass Brownstone. I bought this book from a secondhand bookstall and found it fascinating and traumatic in equal measure.
Between 1892 and the early 1950's nearly fifteen million people streamed through Ellis Island in search of a new life. Though it closed as a federal immigration station in 1954, the landmark island was restored and reopened in 1990 as a museum - thus preserving the heritage of 100 million Americans who can trace their immigration roots there.
Island of Hope, Island of Tears tells the stories of these immigrants, largely in the words of the extraordinary men and women and children whose epic journey to America led them through the portals of Ellis Island. Coming primarily from Southern and Eastern Europe, and from widely diverse backgrounds, the immigrants represented in this remarkable book recount the adventures with dignity, wit and honesty. Some immigrants relate each step of their passage to America. Others highlight key events.
Among the dozens of narrators there is a Greek boy forced into the Turkish Army at 15 who escaped to America with the help of the Russian Orthodox Church, a Polish girl who made the harrowing journey from Russia only to have to flee again from a 'white slaver' and a Czech woman who fooled doctors into letting her travel and join her husband despite being 8 months pregnant.
There are many photographs and it is a rich history of the people whose hopes and dreams helped to forge America.