What Were the Top Three Countries of Origin for Ellis Island Immigrants?

by Kim Norton

In its 63 years of existence (1892 to 1954), the Federal Immigration Station on Ellis Island processed over 12 million immigrants from many countries.

Record-keeping

Record-keeping at Ellis Island was difficult, due to the sheer number of immigrants processed daily. Many immigrants had no records with them. Mistakes (linguistic and otherwise) made it difficult to ascertain where an immigrant came from, yet it is clear there were three main countries of origin.

Countries of Origin

While immigrants came from Europe, Scandinavia, the Baltic and Balkan countries, Russia, Africa and the Middle East, three small European countries sent the most immigrants through Ellis Island.

Top Three Countries of Origin

Ireland, Italy, and Germany were the three countries most represented at Ellis Island.

Ireland

Even before the Ellis Island facility opened, Ireland was strongly represented (millions fled the Potato Famine of 1845 to come to America). The first immigrant processed at Ellis Island was Irish -- Annie Moore, 15, of Cork, Ireland. Today, some 44 million Americans claim Irish ancestry.

Italy

Some 4.5 million Italians came through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1900. In the years 1900 to 1914, the number increased to 5 million. Currently, about 25 million Americans trace their ancestry to Italy.

Germany

While Germany is the third largest country of origin represented at Ellis Island between 1892 and 1900, Germany accounted for the largest number of immigrants (many came prior to 1892). Some 47 million Americans now trace their ancestry to Germany.

About the Author

Kim Norton wrote for 25 years for an in-house securities research publication. She currently writes articles for Demand Studios that involve medical research, law and senior citizen concerns. She also writes radio advertising copy and opera librettos. A graduate of Westminster Choir College, Norton resides in Bayonne, N.J.

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