American Family Immigration History Center Celebrates Grand Opening

New Database Provides Easy Access to

More Than 60% of our Nation's Immigration Records

Apr 17, 2001, 01:00 ET from Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation

    NEW YORK, April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island
 Foundation (the Foundation), National Park Service (NPS), Ellis Island
 immigrants and their families, dignitaries and other guests gathered today at
 the Ellis Island Immigration Museum to celebrate the opening of the American
 Family Immigration History Center(TM) (Family History Center). The event
 included appearances by Tom Brokaw, Charles Grodin and Joel Grey; a search for
 Irving Berlin's immigration records involving his daughters and great
 grandson; an overview of the Family History Center's Family Scrapbook
 activity; and a presentation by Foundation Founding Chairman Lee A. Iacocca of
 the first annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards to Irving Berlin's family
 and three Ellis Island immigrants:  Felicita (Gabaccia) Salto, age (86 years
 old); Seymour Rexsite, age (88 years old) and Marinus deNooyer, age (103 years
     Today also marks the first annual "Ellis Island Family History Day," an
 event that is co-sponsored by the Foundation, the National Genealogical
 Society and America's Governors. "We have chosen today to open the American
 Family Immigration History Center for a very special reason," said Mr.
 Iacocca. "Ninety-four years ago, April 17, 1907, was greeted with the largest
 number of immigrants ever processed on one day at Ellis Island --
 11,747 souls, more than twice the usual number. In honor of this historical
 event, we will recognize 'Ellis Island Family History Day' with our Family
 Heritage Awards program on April 17, from this year forward."
     Other speakers at the event included Secretary of the Interior Gale
 Norton; Stephen A. Briganti, president and CEO of the Foundation; and Elder
 Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
     The Family History Center is available on the Internet at, or by appointment and on a first-come,
 first-served basis at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. It features an
 electronic database containing valuable information on 22 million immigrants,
 passengers and crewmembers who entered the United States through the Port of
 New York between 1892-1924, the peak years of Ellis Island's processing. The
 data, taken directly from microfilms of the ships' passenger manifests
 provided by the National Archives and Records Administration, has never before
 been available electronically. It was extracted and transcribed through the
 generous efforts of the Latter-day Saints. "Twelve thousand of our volunteers
 donated 5.6 million hours to this project," said Elder Nelson. "They played a
 vital role in creating the Family History Center's database by reviewing and
 entering data on 22 million individuals taken from 3,678 boxes of microfilmed
     The Family History Center provides easy access to information such as:  an
 immigrant's given name and surname, ethnicity, last town and country of
 residence, date of arrival, age, gender, marital status, ship of travel, port
 of departure and line number on the manifest. The database is free-of-charge
 on the Internet or can be accessed at the Center for an entrance fee of $5
 that includes a printout of an immigrant's arrival data. A scanned
 reproduction of the original ship's manifest, as well as a photo of the ship
 of passage, can be reproduced either on CD-ROM or on archival paper for an
 additional fee, in the near future.
     "Polls tell us that over 60% of Americans are interested in family history
 research*," said Mr. Briganti. "Information that previously might have taken
 months to find is now a click away. We give Americans the tools to begin a
 search of their past, often leading them to inquire further, reconnecting with
 long lost relatives and discovering tall tales, funny stories and family
     The Center, designed by Edwin Schlossberg Incorporated, also offers the
 Family History Scrapbook. Available to Ellis Island Foundation members, this
 is an advanced interactive database where individuals can scan in family
 photographs and personal documents, and enter audio recordings to store in the
 Center's national family history archive. Participants will receive either a
 paper or CD-ROM copy of their Scrapbook to take home. Scrapbooks can also be
 developed and accessed on the Internet at a later date.
     As with previous Ellis Island projects, funding has come from the private
 sector, with no government funds employed.
     For further information on the American Family Immigration History
 Center(TM) write:
     The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
     P.O. Box ELLIS
     New York, NY  10163
     Or visit
     *--According to a 2000 poll by Maritz Marketing Research, Inc.

SOURCE Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation