If you missed last Tuesday’s USCIS History Office webinar, “Married at Ellis Island…., 1892-1924,” you missed a good one. I won’t review all the details, but here are a few tidbits: It’s estimated that perhaps 300 women a year “married at Ellis Island” to their intended spouse in lieu of deportation on the grounds of “likely to become a public charge” or risk of falling into prostitution. The “Record of Detained Aliens” (title may vary) that follows the regular passenger lists for a given vessel (on microfilm or online) may have the notation “married” or similar words as a part of the information for the detained woman. The marriage record will be found in the New York City marriage records for that period which are online on Ancestry.com. A marriage on the alien woman’s date of arrival or during the day(s) she was detained is a good clue that the marriage happened “at Ellis Island” and was a requirement for her admission to the United States.
During Ellis Island’s peak years, unmarried immigrant women faced extra scrutiny when entering the United States. Women who traveled with companions to whom they were not married were deemed susceptible to “immoral” activities. Single women who travelled alone and had no relatives to meet them were often seen as “likely to become a public charge.” If the women married, however, they became admissible immigrants. As a result, hundreds of immigrants were married on Ellis Island.
This U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) webinar, presented by an agency historian, uses real case files to explore Ellis Island marriages in the context of the era’s immigration policies.
This webinar will not be recorded, so be sure to join it live.
Go to the Worth Repeating Webinars, choose the March 27 session, then hit the “Attend Session” button. It’s good to get there about 5 to 10 minutes in advance to make sure you are connecting successfully.