Putting Down New Roots: Through Ellis Island to a New Life

- Hydock, Dolores
This presentation puts a human face to the experience of early 20th-century European immigration to America, and Depression-era family life, through the detailed story of one Polish-American family. The presentation discusses the Ellis Island experience for many immigrants who passed through that entryway in the early 1900s. Details about the Ellis Island facility in the early 1900s and as it is today, as well as stories about language difficulties, luggage, foreign aid societies, medical examinations and other individual experiences, translate immigration data and raw numbers into a moving, human-scale story. The presentation then follows one immigrant family as it settles into a new life in a small, industrial city in Pennsylvania during the 1920s and 1930s. Stories of the small neighborhood grocery store they ran during the Depression, their family life, the children’s games and toys, and other aspects of daily life create a personal portrait of what it was like to “put down new roots” in unfamiliar soil.

A microphone / access to sound system may be needed, depending on the size of the group.