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Ellis Island Supervisor Instructions


Stage 1: Arriving at Ellis Island
1. Randomly give each student an Immigrant role card. Then tell the Immigrants in a stern
voice:
You are now playing the role of the European immigrant described on your card. After a
long journey across the Atlantic Ocean, you have all just arrived by boat at Ellis Island,
the main processing station for U.S. immigrants, located in the harbor outside New York
City.
You are about to go through the typical immigration process that occurred at Ellis Island,
which involves a medical exam and a legal inspection. The results of these two inspections will determine whether you will be allowed into the United States.
Some of you have names that are difficult to pronounce. Sound out your name as best
you can and practice saying it until you can do so naturally.
During your time at Ellis Island, try to talk to at least three other immigrants. Find out
where they came from and why they have immigrated.
Study your card carefully and follow the directions on it. It contains very important information that may mean the difference between passing through Ellis Island or being forced
to return to your home country.
2. Give students a few moments to review their role cards.
3. Ask all Immigrants who traveled to the United States in first or second class (as stated on
their role cards) to come to the front of the line.
4. Escort this group (about three or four students) inside and tell them to go directly to the
Ferryboat Waiting Room. Tell them to make themselves comfortable as they read about
the experiences of previous immigrants (on Student Handout D).
5. Begin playing audio track, Sounds of Ellis Island.

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Through Ellis Island and Angel Island: The Immigrant Experience 1

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Stage 2: Medical Examinations


1. Have steerage-class Immigrants line up single file for their medical exams.
2. As Immigrants enter the classroom (Ellis Island), dont speak to them in English. Instead,
use gibberish or another language and hand gestures.
3. Keep the examination line moving quickly. When one medical exam
is complete, make sure the next person in line is ready. As Immigrants pass their medical
exams, direct them to the Legal Inspection Area. Make sure they take all their belongings
with them.
4. Make sure the three or four Immigrants who do not pass the medical exam take a seat (and
stay seated) in the Medical Quarantine Area for the remainder of the activity.
Stage 3: Legal Inspections
1. As Immigrants sit in the Legal Inspection Area, motion for them to read Student Handout
D while they are waiting.
2. Wait until all Immigrants have completed their medical exams before beginning the legal
inspections.
3. Direct Immigrants who pass the legal inspection to take their belongings to the Ferryboat
Waiting Room.
4. Make sure the few Immigrants who do not pass the legal inspection take a seat (and stay
seated) in the Legal Detention Area for the remainder of the activity.

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Through Ellis Island and Angel Island: The Immigrant Experience 2

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Medical
Examination
Area

Station Labels

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Through Ellis Island and Angel Island: The Immigrant Experience 3

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Medical
Quarantine
Area

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Through Ellis Island and Angel Island: The Immigrant Experience 4

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legal
inspection
Area

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Through Ellis Island and Angel Island: The Immigrant Experience 5

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legal
detention
Area

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Through Ellis Island and Angel Island: The Immigrant Experience 6

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ferryboat
waiting room

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Through Ellis Island and Angel Island: The Immigrant Experience 7