Immigrants with their possessions. Photo courtesy of the United States Library of Congress.

SALT LAKE CITY, Tuesday, April 17 – A new searchable database of 22 million immigrants to America who came through Ellis Island is now available to visitors at the American Family Immigration History Center and on the Internet.

Today’s (Tuesday’s) grand opening of the Center at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum concludes a seven-year partnership between the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation, the National Park Service and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If stacked flat, the 3,678 boxes of microfilms examined by Latter-day Saint volunteers would exceed three times the height of the Statue of Liberty, from the hem of her flowing robe to the top of her torch.

Some 12,000 volunteers from the Church spent years electronically transcribing data from ships’ manifests on passengers and crew members who entered the Port of New York from 1892 to 1924, the peak years of Ellis Island’s processing. Volunteers donated over five million hours during this labor intensive project. Internet users can access the database at www.ellisislandrecords.org.

Latter-day Saint volunteers from congregations in Sandy, Utah, work together on the Ellis Island project at a family history center at their local church.

Steve Briganti, President of the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation said, “The partnership of three very separate groups with very special and specific interests have come together to provide something that is valuable for so many millions of people who want to know about their heritage.” The center will be housed in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and will use state-of-the-art interactive computer technology to bring to life the immigration records of ancestors who came to this country as long as a century ago. Visitors to the center will be able to scan in family photographs and personal documents and enter audio recordings to store in the Center’s national family history archive. The database also contains family histories and global migration facts and maps.

Falicita Salto was six and a half years old when her family came through Ellis Island from Italy. She found her family on the new immigrant database during a recent visit to the American Family Immigration Center. “It gives you a feeling that I’m not the only thing that ever was. There was somebody before me and somebody before them. You feel a connection with your past,” Salto said.

Italian immigrant family at Ellis Island. Photo courtesy of the United States Library of Congress.

It is estimated that about 40% of the population of the country living today can trace the roots of at least one or more ancestors through the Port of New York, according to Wayne Metcalf, a genealogical expert with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “This country is as good as it is because of the immigrants who came here to fulfill their dreams. Work on this project provided a sense of appreciation for what they were willing to sacrifice in order to fulfill those dreams and provide a better world for us.”

Extras
To access the following extra items, go to www.media.lds.org, and click on News Releases.

  • Audio sound bites with Wayne Metcalfe, project manager
  • More Historic photos
  • Video news release
  • Press kit