The Forgotten of Ellis Island Database documents deaths of immigrants placed in quarantine at Ellis Island.

 Forgotten of Ellis Island Database

Immigrants with curable diseases went to medical facilities on Ellis Island or in some cases to hospitals in New York City. Suspected contagious cases went to Swinburne Island for observation; active contagious cases were quarantined on Hoffman Island.

A RootsWeb resource, the Forgotten of Ellis Island Database documents people who died in quarantine. The database covers deaths from November 1909 through June of 1911. To search the Forgotten of Ellis Island Database click here. Unfortunately, this great resource is hosted at RootsWeb, so it may disappear at some point. Use this resource soon and document what you find.

Cathy Horn compiled the Forgotten of Ellis Island Database from death records listing Hoffman and Swinburne Islands. Horn includes the year in which the death was registered and the Death Certificate number. With that number, you can now use the Historical Vital Records of NYC site that debuted in April 2022. It provides access to millions of digitized birth, death and marriage records dating from 1855 to 1949. Search, browse, download or order certified copies from the Municipal Archives’ vital records collection.  

Medical Treatment at Ellis Island

Estimates from public health records indicate that 1 in 5 immigrants were identified for additional medical review. Of those two to three percent were detained and one percent were deported. 

“No major epidemic was ever traced to an immigrant who entered America after being treated at the hospital. Nine of 10 patients treated at the hospital were cured and allowed to enter the country and begin the road to citizenship,” according to The New York Times.

“To those who went through it, it was one of the most precious gifts you were given, because when you were sick you couldn’t do anything about it. But here is a place that rescued you.” remembered John Henry Wilberding, an immigrant from Germany in 1928.

Forgotten Ellis Island

And if you’re interested in more information about the 22-building hospital complex and the immigrants who were treated there, watch the documentary by Lorie Conway that was released by PBS in 2009.

Forgotten Ellis Island is available on YouTube at the link below. There’s a companion book by the same title. In an amazing feat of research, the producers actually found people who were treated there.

For more information on researching immigrant ancestors, try Discovering Immigrant Ancestors. In this Sassy Jane eBook you’ll find 25 pages of direct links for 19th- and 20th-century immigration records through all U.S. ports. Links to naturalization records and little-known resources for immigrant ancestors are also included.