Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ellis Island Approaches Centennial of Record-Breaking Day

NOTE FROM DearMYRTLE: The follow was received from the Ellis Island Foundation. All inquiries should be addressed through the website:

Ellis Island Approaches Centennial of Record-Breaking Day

Immigrants More Than Doubled on April 17, 1907

ELLIS ISLAND, N.Y., March 29 /PRNewswire/ -- April 17, 2007 marks the100th anniversary of the busiest day in Ellis Island's history, when11,747individuals arrived there to begin new lives in America. A usual day sawsome 5,000 immigrants processed. It was the highpoint of 1907 when1,285,349 immigrants entered the United States, with Ellis Islandprocessing nearly 80 percent of those new arrivals. The country wouldnotwelcome as many immigrants again until 1990.

Forty percent of Americans can trace their roots back to at least oneancestor who arrived through Ellis Island, which processed 17 millionimmigrants from 1892-1954. Notable people who entered there weresongwriterIrving Berlin, comedians Henny Youngman and Bob Hope, and actors RudolphValentino and Cary Grant.

Many immigrants, like the Natte family from Holland, underwent numeroushardships to start better lives in America. Evert Jan Natte and hiswife,Cato, arrived on the S.S. Potsdam in March 1907, after having lost twooftheir eight children at sea to diphtheria and seeing a third die fromthesame illness shortly after they arrived. The surviving children weresent to a hospital in nearby Hoboken, New Jersey, while Cato, pregnant anddueto give birth, remained at Ellis Island for the entire month of April. Herinfant son was named Robert Ellis Natte, after the Port Commissioner atEllis Island and the place where he was born.

Finally, the family wasreunited and on May 3, 1907, they headed west for Minnesota. Today theNatte family has a rich and extensive genealogy, with 100 directdescendents sharing a tie to the Dutch couple's sacrifice and courage.

According to Dr. Alan Kraut of American University and chair of theHistory Advisory Committee for The Statue of Liberty-Ellis IslandFoundation, Inc., America's current wave of immigration has strikingsimilarities to the turn of the last century when Ellis Island wasAmerica's flagship immigration depot.

"The percentage of our foreignbornpopulation in 1907 was 15.7%, and today it is just slightly lower at12.5%," says Dr. Kraut. "However, the real difference is where they arecoming from: in 1907 most of those arriving were from Southern andEasternEurope, while today they are coming predominantly from Latin America andAsia.

"The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation will celebrate thiscentennial by holding its 6th Annual Ellis Island Family Heritage AwardsonTuesday, April 17, at 11 a.m. in the Great Hall at the Ellis IslandImmigration Museum. These awards will honor three outstanding Americans with roots to Ellis Island: Mike ("Coach K") Krzyzewski in Sports, BillNovelli in Public Service, and John Mack in Business.

The Peopling ofAmerica Award, honoring an immigrant from another time period ordifferentport of entry, will salute fashion entrepreneur Josie Natori.

For more information on Ellis Island, visit The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. is a non-profitorganization founded in 1982 to raise funds for and oversee the historicrestorations of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, working inpartnership with the National Park Service/U.S. Department of theInterior.

In addition to restoring the monuments, the Foundation created a museuminthe Statue's base and the world-class Ellis Island Immigration Museum,TheAmerican Immigrant Wall of Honor(R) and the American Family ImmigrationHistory Center(R). Its endowment has funded over 200 projects at theislands.

SOURCE Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

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