Find and Honor Your Ancestors at Ellis Island Wall of Honor

VIDEO & SHOW NOTES: Discover how to search for ancestors who may be included on the Ellis Island Immigrant Wall of Honor, and learn how you can honor ancestors’ by adding them to the list.  

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Show Notes: Ellis Island Wall of Honor

Millions of our ancestors came through Ellis Island in New York. Mine certainly did. So it’s a great place for genealogists to explore and learn new things about their family history. Well, there have been some changes and things happening over at the Ellis Island Foundation. And here to tell us more about it is Suzanne Mannion. She’s the Director of Public Affairs have the Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation. 

The American Immigrant Wall of Honor Ellis Island

The American Immigrant Wall of Honor-Courtesy of Paul Seibert Photography

About the Ellis Island Wall of Honor

From Suzanne: The American immigrant Wall of Honor was introduced in 1990, when the Ellis Island Museum opened, originally, it was after the foundation had restored Liberty Ellis Island. It was a way to support the foundation. But more importantly, it was a way to celebrate people’s individual family immigrant experience.

Primarily it was Ellis Island immigrants and or their descendants whose names are on the on the wall for the start. Then over the years, it expanded. It’s now open to everyone, regardless of your immigration story or timeline.

It’s really been so well received. There are more than 800,000 names on the original wall of honor. So, that actually filled up and we had to turn people away and say, sorry, we’re filled up. Then through our partnership with the National Park Service, we were able to expand the Wall of Honor, which we just announced earlier this year.

The first round of names on the expanded wall are being submitted right now, and through the end of this year (2023). Those names will be unveiled in the summer of 2024. We were so excited that the Park Service gave us this opportunity, because people were disappointed thinking they had missed their chance to include their ancestors. So many people want to celebrate whether it’s themselves, their parents, or a loved one. They want to celebrate the immigrant experience, because that’s what Ellis Island is all about whether your family came here like mine in the in the mid-1800s or last year. It’s all about the celebration.

Names Expanded to All Immigrants

From Lisa: You might be really surprised to realize that many of the names that are on the wall are not people who came through Ellis Island. Normally at an historic site you would expect to see plaques and signage only referring to those involved with that site. So, I’m interested, when did that decision get made? When did it change from a wall of honor Ellis Island to including everybody?

From Suzanne: It was probably in the early 2000s. So, as you know, the Ellis Island database was launched in April of 2001.

Passenger Database Search

And so, with that people were celebrating the Ellis experience. Whether or not it’s true, I say oh, we should take some credit for helping genealogy become such a popular pastime! So, with that people came in, and even those visiting who didn’t have roots through Ellis Island, they felt the connection to America’s immigration story. So, people started asking if they could add their names to it. And it made complete sense.

Our goal is to continue expanding our database, so it has more ports of entry. And with that, we’re at the National Museum of Immigration

So, we thought, let’s tell the whole story. So yeah, it’s been, I would say, well over a decade that the immigrant didn’t have to have come through Ellis Island to be included. I’m loving seeing and hearing other people’s stories and these different countries because it was very much a European thing like that. And now, they’re from all over the world.

Searching the Wall of Honor Database

From Lisa: You mentioned that there is a database. Before we try to submit a name, we’d like to check and see if the name is already there. Where can they search this database on the website, and would include any more information on that particular database besides just the fact that the names on the wall?

From Suzanne: Yeah, there’s two different databases. There’s the Ellis Island database through which one can trace family or anyone who came to the port of New York Between 1820 and 1957.

Ellis Island Passenger Database Search

And then the Wall of Honor database

Ellis Island Wall Of Honor and Database Search

In there you can see the name of the person who’s on the wall, and the person who submitted the name. So, some people do it for themselves. But it could be from Suzanne, “in honor of her great, great, Grandfather Michael Mannion.”

How to Add a Name to the Wall of Honor

From Lisa: What’s the process for adding our ancestor’s name? You mentioned that there might be a deadline. We’re recording here in 2023. Can they continue to add names into the new year?

From Suzanne: The opportunity is continuous. But what we do is we only put up a new panel once a year. So, from January 1 to December 31, people submit their names. Then at the beginning of the following calendar year, we create a new panel, and then we unveil it in early summer.

Add a Name to the Wall of Honor

So, if you want to make it onto that first panel of the wall expansion, then please submit the name or names by the by the 31st of December, 2023. But you can certainly participate after that.

Foundation Fundraiser and Cost

From Lisa: I believe this is a fundraiser for foundation correct?

From Suzanne: It is such a great way to show support for the foundation and the work that we do in restoring and preserving the two monuments. The cost starts at $275 for a one-line inscription.

Add a Name to the Wall of Honor

The website explains the process and the pricing. There are higher levels such as Steward levels, if you want more lines. That provides additional support for the foundation. Also, if you join, become a member at a certain level, that includes a wall of honor inscription. So, there are many ways to support the work that we do.

The History of the Foundation

We’ve been around since 1982. President Reagan asked Lee Iacocca to head up the effort to not only raise money, but to oversee the restoration of the statue and of Ellis Island for their Centennials. We’ve continued to work closely with our partners at the National Park Service.

In 2019 we opened the Statue of Liberty museum on Liberty Island.

Statue of Liberty Museum

It’s a small museum but with a big, big impact. There are beautiful visuals, and her original torch lives right there.

We don’t take government money to do any of the projects at the islands. It’s all through donations and has been since our inception. And we’re very proud of that.

From Lisa: I remember back in high school when Lee Iacocca was taking this on, and my grandmother was so excited because her parents had come through Ellis Island. It was in really tough shape back then. What stands there today is just amazing. It’s a wonderful experience. I encourage everybody watching to at some point make the visit because it really is heart touching.

EarthCam at Ellis Island

From Suzanne: Yes, and check out our website. We have some amazing views ! We are partnering with a company called EarthCam. You can see different views from the statue, and learn more

State of Liberty EarthCam

How Donated Money is Used

From Lisa: In the spirit of good stewardship, how is the money used? Does it only support the creation of the Ellis Island Wall of Honor? Or are there specific projects that you’ve had in mind this year that this money goes directly to that we can maybe look forward to in the future?

From Suzanne: Yeah, I can’t say right now. But I would love to come back in a few months to talk about a project we’re planning over on Ellis Island.

The donations that come via the Wall of Honor support the foundation’s mission in general, to restore and preserve the two monuments. And that includes maintaining the wall of honor.

Another thing that may inspire people to add the name this year is because costs are going up to not only create this new expansion and to maintain the wall, there will be a $25 increase in inscription starting January 1, 2024.

From Lisa: Suzanne, it’s always great to talk to you. Thank you so much for sharing this news. And I look forward to new and more news next year.

Resources:

Download the ad-free Show Notes cheat sheet for this video here. (Premium Membership required.)

Celebrating 1000 Genealogy Blog Posts: #7 in the Top 10 Countdown

The Social Security Applications and Claims Index was one of 2015’s most important new online resources for U.S. researchers (keep reading to see the other). No n Genealogy Countdown #7wonder it made the #7 spot on this week’s Top 10 genealogy blog post countdown!

This summer, Ancestry.com quietly released a major addition to its U.S. record resources. We already rely on the Social Security Death Index to help us find 20th-century relatives. But so many of us have lamented at how limited is the info in that index, and how expensive to order the original application when there’s no guarantee we’ll find the person’s parents names (which are requested on the form).

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims IndexI’m guessing that’s why Lisa’s post on Ancestry’s new Social Security Applications and Claims Index made the #7 spot on our genealogy blog countdown this week! This enriched index adds parents’ names and more to millions of SSDI indexed entries. Click here to read more about it and search the index.

Want to read about another top database for U.S. researchers that was recently released? Click here!

 

Don’t forget about our countdown prize this week! Click here to see all Top 10 blog posts–and share that post on your Facebook page by THIS Friday (November 20, 2015). Use the hashtag #genealogygems, and you’ll be entered in a contest to win my Pain Free Family History Writing Project video course download, kindly donated by our friends at Family Tree University. You’re welcome to add any comments on your “shared” post, like which Genealogy Gems blog post has most inspired you or helped your research. That feedback helps us bring you more posts you’ll love.

Ready, set, SHARE! And thank YOU for helping us celebrate our 1000th blog post here at Genealogy Gems.

 

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 237

The Genealogy Gems Podcast is the leading genealogy and family history show. Launched in 2007, the show is hosted by genealogy author, keynote presenter, and video producer Lisa Louise Cooke. The podcast can be found in all major podcasting directories, or download the exclusive Genealogy Gems Podcast app to listen to all the episodes and receive bonus content. 

Podcast host: Lisa Louise Cooke
January 2020
Download the episode mp3

Download the Show Notes PDF in the Genealogy Gems Podcast app. 

We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Genealogy Gems app. We blazed a new trail back in 2010 when we launched the app – apps were still really new back then.  I loved the idea of having a way to deliver exclusive bonus content to you as well as the audio, the show notes and best of all an easy way for you to contact me and the show.

genealogy gems podcast app 10th anniversary

It’s more popular than ever, and as far as I know we are still the only genealogy podcast app available. If you haven’t already downloaded it just search for Genealogy Gems in Google Play or Apple’s App Store, or get the right app for your phone or tablet here.

In this episode I have two interviews for you on very different subjects. First up will be a follow up to last month’s episode where we focused specifically on the New York Public Library Photographers’ Identities Catalog.

Well, in this episode we’re going to talk to the genealogy reference librarian at the New York Public Library, Andy McCarthy. And as you’ll hear, there are a massive amount of resource available there for genealogists everywhere.

Then we’ll switch gears to Scandinavian genealogy with David Fryxell, author of the new book The Family Tree Scandinavian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

The free podcast is sponsored by RootsMagic

Rootsmagic

GEM: The New York Public Library’s Milstein Division of United States

History, Local History & Genealogy with Reference Librarian Andy McCarthy.

The NYPL is one of the largest public genealogical collections in the country. They have a “wide-angle” approach to providing reference materials for local and US History.

The Top Resources at The New York Public Library

#1 The reference librarians.

Email them at history@nypl.org Ask questions, prepare for your visit.

#2 The online catalog:

Click here to visit the New York Public Library’s Online Catalog.

While they subscribe to many genealogy databases, they don’t host many. Use the catalog to determine what’s available, and what to ask for. See if what you’re looking for exists. Pay close attention to subject headings to identify resources.

#3 The Digital Collections

Click here to visit the Digital Collections at the New York Public Library. 

  • City Directory Collection up to 1933.
  • Manhattan is the largest and is coming soon. This collection was only available previously on microfilm. It is a browse-only collection (not keyword searchable)
  • The 1940 Phone Directory is online.
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Map collection is digitized and online.
  • The Map Wharper which is a crowd-sourcing project providing for historic map overlays, and super zooming in views. 

Offline Materials: 

They also have a massive collection available in house of books, pamphlets, newspapers, etc. There are research and photo copying services available.

#4 Research Guides online

Click here to view the New York Public Library’s research guides. 

Before you go:

  • Definitely reach out before you go.
  • Provide them with specific questions and they can help you identify what to focus on while you’re there.
  • Visit the Milstein home page. They also have many public classes. Check to see what will be available during your visit.

One of Andy’s Favorites Collections

The Photographic Views of NYC Collection. Arranged by cross streets

The free podcast is sponsored by MyHeritage

MyHeritage

GEM: Scandinavian Research with Author David Fryxell

David Fryxell’s book on Scandinavian Genealogy

David A. Fryxell is the author of the book The Family Tree Scandinavian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Ancestors in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

David is an award-winning author, editor, speaker and publishing consultant. He founded Family Tree Magazine, the nation’s leading genealogy publication. As a writing expert, he wrote the Nonfiction column for Writer’s Digest magazine for more than a decade and served as director of the famous Maui Writer’s Retreat. He has authored countless articles for Family Tree Magazine, and is also the author of additional books including Good Old Days, My Ass and MicroHistory: Ideas and inventions that made the modern world.

David Fryxell Scandinavian Genealogy Author

Author David Fryxell

Here’s a brief outline of my Q&A with David Fryxell on his new book and Scandinavian genealogy research:

Question:

To understand the ties between the Scandinavian countries, and why countries like Finland and Iceland aren’t included, we have to learn about the cultures and languages, right?

Answer:

Scandinavian countries are really tied by language. And at one point all the countries were united. Borders change. The records reflect these various changes.

Question:

What’s the timeline of Scandinavian immigration?

Answer:

The First Wave, 1825–1860

The Second Wave, 1865–1880

The Third Wave, 1880–1924

Question:

What value do you think DNA testing provides, and what should we keep in mind if we do test?

Answer:

DNA results are most helpful to find other relatives who may be able to assist in your research.

Question:

Let’s say we know we’ve identified the ancestor who immigrated. What else do we need to know before we can jump the pond and start digging into Scandinavian records?

Answer:

In the case of Scandinavian ancestors, you may not have to find the U.S. passenger records. They have excellent passenger departure records.

Question:

Tell us about the census in Scandinavia. Is it consistent among all three countries?

Answer:

Norway and Denmark have good census records. You can find them at:

They are increasingly searchable, and much like our census records in the U.S.

Sweden doesn’t really have useful census records. But they have Household Inventory records in church books. They were recorded every year. Turn to websites such as ArchivDigital, and Ancestry.com.

Question:

Let’s dig into the records. Where do you recommend we start?

Answer:

Church records are key. (Vital Records, census, vaccination, etc.) Also Military, Land and Tax.

Question:

I love that chapter 16 is called What to do when you get stuck! Give us an example of a common area where researchers get stuck and one of your favorite strategies for unsticking them.

Answer:

  • Get familiar with and pay close attention to patronymic naming conventions where a man’s name is typically based on the given name of their father.
  • Look closely!
  • Challenge your assumptions!

More Resources from David Fryxell: https://vikinggenealogy.com

Protect Your Precious Genealogy Data

Don’t wait another day. Get the computer backup that I use www.backblaze.com/Lisa.

Backblaze lisa louise cooke

Profile America: First Radio Broadcast

Monday, January 13th. Today is the anniversary of the first radio broadcast to the public. It took place 110 years ago in New York City, engineered by Lee deForest, a radio pioneer and inventor of the electron tube.

Lee de Forest First Radio Broadcast

The 1910 broadcast wasn’t made from a purpose-built radio studio, but from the Metropolitan Opera house. DeForest broadcast the voices of Enrico Caruso and other opera singers. A small but impressed audience throughout the city gathered around special receivers to listen with headphones.

Today, 95 percent of American households have at least one radio.

One-hundred ten years after deForest’s lonely effort, some 5,400 radio stations employ about 92,000 people.

Sources:

Courtesy of Census.gov.

MyHeritage LIVE conference

I’ll be speaking at this conference in Tel Aviv, Israel on October 25 & 26, 2020. Read more here.

RootsTech 2020

I’ll be presenting 4 sessions and look forward to visiting with you at the Genealogy Gems booth at the front of the exhibit hall. Get all the details here.

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