Statue of Liberty
Search The Stories

The Oral History Project

A Record of
Living Memory

They arrived from around the world for countless reasons. Some fled persecution, some ran from famine, and many came simply for the possibility of a better life. Today, the varied stories of Ellis Island immigrants are kept alive through the Foundation’s Oral History project.

Click HERE to login to (or create) your account and explore these fascinating first-person accounts!

The project is one of the world’s largest and most diverse chronicles of the immigrant experience. It includes nearly 2,000 interviews from passengers, families, immigration officials, military personnel, detainees, and former island employees. The recordings are filled with tales of joy, sorrow, and hope, and cumulatively, they paint an expansive and complex picture of our ancestry and culture.

Available to researchers, students, educators, and the general public, the Oral History Project is a unique national totem, and an incredible resource for anyone interested in connecting with the voices that built America.

More information

Visit the Library

The Oral History project is overseen by the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. While the majority of the records can be found online, some can only be explored by visiting the Museum’s Bob Hope Memorial Library, located on the building’s third floor.

Be Part of the Project

The Museum continues to conduct interviews with individuals whose lives were touched by Ellis Island. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for an interview, or if you have an interview to submit, please email or call 212-561-4588.

Passenger & Ship Search

A Record of Dreams

Find your connection to Ellis Island and explore your family’s heritage. Search a remarkable collection of arrival records and ship manifests, and get a glimpse of your family’s journey through the gates of America.

Famous Passengers

Luminaries and Leaders

The immigrants who came to America through Ellis Island made a profound impact on our culture and society. They made contributions to business, science, and culture – and today, a number of them are counted among our most celebrated citizens.

Genealogy Primer

Discover Your Story

Want to take a tour through your family history? Start the process of determining your heritage by playing detective at home. Our guides and references can help you find the information you need to find answers and connect to your roots.

About The Interviews

Although each interview is unique, Oral History Project records usually cover a range of subjects related to the immigrant’s journey. Common topics include: examination of everyday life in the country of origin, family history, reasons for coming to the United States, experiences while sailing overseas, arrival and processing at the Ellis Island facility, and an in-depth look at adjusting to living in America.

The Foundation

Keeping Our Heritage Alive

Today, the story of Ellis Island is as potent as ever. The Foundation is dedicated to preserving the island's legacy, and works to foster undederstanding and appreciation for the history of American immigration.