Speaking Volumns: Today, April 17, marks Ellis Island History Day


Did your family's ancestors pass through Ellis Island? Millions of people from all over the world have gone through the portals of this historic landmark in New York Harbor in search of a new life and opportunity.

April 17 marks "Ellis Island History Day." Knowing your family's history can help you better appreciate the difficulties your ancestors experienced in beginning life over again in a new place. The Manatee County Public Library System has a variety of materials pertaining to Ellis Island and its history. The Central Library also has a sizable genealogy section that anyone may utilize to research their ancestors and possible connections to Ellis Island.

Books for both children and adults run the gamut from general histories of Ellis Island to oral histories of those who came through on their way to new lives in America. Books on Ellis Island may be found in both the 304 and 325 Dewey Decimal areas, while books dealing with genealogy are located in the 929 area.

In the children's area there are books such as "I Was Dreaming to Come to America: Memories from the Ellis Island Oral History Project," selected and illustrated by Veronica Lawlor, and "Life on Ellis Island" by Renee Rebman, which delves into daily activities and the evolution of the facility.

On the adult shelves, you will find Barbara Benton's "Ellis Island: A Pictorial History" and Peter M. Coan's "Ellis Island Interviews: In Their Own Words." Don't forget the 929 area where genealogy materials are located. One great book to get you started in researching your family tree is "The Family Tree Guide to Finding Your Ellis Island Ancestors" by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack.

The downtown Central Library also has genealogy materials that may not be checked out, but may be photocopied. These materials range from passenger lists, federal and state census indexes for many states, family histories and more. In addition, the library also subscribes to the following electronic resources: America's Genealogy Bank, which includes access to various newspapers, the Social Security Death Index; HeritageQuest Online, which provides access to the U.S. Censuses from 1790 to 1940 and includes information on people and places from over 28,000 family and local histories and more; and NewsBank, which supplements what is offered in America's Genealogy Bank. These databases may be accessed from home with your library card.

If your family came from the Manatee County area, look no further -- the Central Library's Eaton Florida History Room may have what you need. For more information, check out this link: http://bit.ly/1TSmyRj.

David Breakfield, is a reference librarian at the Central Library.