Classroom Activities: 

Home      Elementary      Middle School      High School

Ellis Island: Learning about Process Stations by Analyzing Photographs

Lesson Overview

Overview: Students will analyze primary source photographs from Ellis Island. Students will interpret different processing stations people went through during the immigration process to the United States and have a better understanding of the deportation process.
Grade Range:  6-8
Objective: After completing this activity students will be able to:
  • Analyze primary source photographs.
  • Understand the inspections individuals went through before entering the United States. 
Time Required: One class period of 45 minutes 
Discipline/Subject: United States History/Social Studies
Topic/Subject: Immigration, American Expansion 
Era: Progressive Era to New Era, 1900-1929 



Illinois Learning Standards:
Common Core Standards:

                                  2.RH: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source:
                                          provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or

                                  7.RG: Integrate visual information with other information in print and digital texts.



Analysis Tools: Photograph Analysis Tool: The More You Look, the More You See 
Other: The Ellis Island Collection Box
Library of Congress Items: United States inspectors examining eyes of immigrants, Ellis Island, NY Harbor
  Detention pen-on roof of main building, Ellis Island, where enigrants held for deportation may go in fine weather.
  Doctors inspection of suspects for skin disease, etc.
Online Resources: Library of Congress, America's Story The First Immigrant Landed on Ellis Island



1. Students completed a study on Immigration prior to this activity.  
2. Prepare students by using the online resource "The First Immigrant Landed on Ellis Island". Students will read through the three slides and discuss how people entered through Ellis Island. Online Resource
3. Gain students attention by asking:
  • How many people immigrated?
  • What other ways could they have entered the United States?
  • Where did the student's family come from? 
4. The class had studied an Ellis Island Collection box. The box contains 23 reproduced replicas of artifacts found at Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924. Talk about artifacts (passenger ticket, vaccine card, passport, menu, ship passenger list) and pass around the room. Other
5. Pass out the three pictures of Ellis Island inspection stations and iPad with pictures available. Library of Congress Items
6. Give each student a photo analysis sheet; students will be given the choice as to which photo he/she would like to analyze. Analysis Tool
7. Students will be given 15 minutes to work on analysis sheet in class and what does not get finished can be taken home for completion. Analysis Tool
8.As a class, put the photographs on the smart board and go over the three photographs with information regarding the inspection station. Library of Congress Items



1. Whole class evaluation by the understanding of the photographs.
2. Informally by questioning individuals about their analysis sheet.
3. Completion of photo analysis sheet.



Have students visit the Ellis Island Museum website.