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Oral histories of Ellis Island go online

A "buttonhook eye inspection" for infection eye diseases at Ellis Island
Photo courtesy of Erica Marshall/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A collection of the oral histories of more than 1,700 immigrants who arrived through Ellis Island that was previously only available to visitors has gone online.

The collection has been up since yesterday at It's a collaboration with the National Park Service, which began recording the oral histories in the early 1970s and housing them at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The interviewees were from numerous countries and ranged in age from 46 to 106 when they participated, relating memories about their immigrant experience and their adjustment to life in the United States.

More than 12 million immigrants were processed at the Ellis Island station, which was open between 1892 and 1954. The vast majority made it into the country, though some didn't.

Searches of's U.S. Immigration Collection, which also includes passenger and naturalization lists, will be free through Sept. 6. New York's WNYC featured clips from a couple of sample histories today.