About 100 million Americans have relatives who entered the United States through Ellis Island in New York. From 1892 until 1954, about 17 million immigrants passed through this gateway, and their records are preserved in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. However, unless you know the name of the ship they came on and the date of their arrival, it may be almost impossible to locate them in this massive collection of records.
Genealogists have long wanted easier access to the actual arrival records, which at last are being computerized and will be made available to researchers. At the present time, buildings on Ellis Island are being refurbished, with the initial stages of the museum there scheduled to open in October of this year. However, work on transcribing the passenger lists to enable their computerization has just been started by the Ellis Island Restoration Commission. Target date for completion of this enormous project is slated for 1992--the centennial of the opening of Ellis Island.
This computer project will contain information on those 17 million immigrants who landed at Ellis Island, including the date they arrived, the ship they came on, their country of origin, their physical characteristics and even the amount of money they brought to this country. All a researcher will need to know is the relative's name. Additionally, a special program now being developed will help descendants whose relatives' names were changed or spelled phonetically by immigration officials.