Ellis Island Visitor’s Center

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Hudson County, Jersey City

Role of Women Workers

The significance of Ellis Island as the gateway to America for newly arriving immigrants is well established, but the role of women working in various capacities at Ellis Island is one that has not been explored. Further research must be done to adequately understand and describe the important role of women at Ellis Island. The files at Ellis Island hold a treasure trove of information about the women who worked at the various immigration-related facilities on the island, and scores of documentary photographs show women in many different roles. While women worked as physicians, translators, nurses, “matrons” assisting immigrant women during physical exams, kitchen workers, and laundry workers, one of the most significant positions held by women in large numbers at Ellis Island was that of social worker. The social aid workers, who were usually women, assisted in making the lives of the immigrants on Ellis Island easier, and helped immigrants make the transition to life in a new country. A list of immigrant aid societies represented at Ellis Island in 1924 shows 14 different organizations, many of them women’s organizations, including: the Council of Jewish Women, The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the Women’s Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Young Women’s Christian Association.

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Ellis Island Visitor’s Center
40.6994721, -74.03955959999996

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