The first chapters of the book describe the history of Ellis Island, and its role in American history. After reading the first two sentences of the book, we have already learned that Ellis Island is a "treshold of liberty" and "the symbolic shrine to freedom and opportunity". The first half of the book is filled with similar platitudes.
The author seems to be more interested in reinforcing romantic prejudices than in factual correctness. An example is name changes at Ellis Island. "Names were often a problem", writes Mrs. Szucs. "Not all immigrants could spell their names, and baffled officials jotted down names as they sounded." Those officials handled thousands of immigrants, and it would take more than a foreign-sounding name to "baffle" them. Name changes at Ellis Island were rare. Mrs. Szucs should have known better.
Another myth that the author reinforces but should have debunked is the "ocean journey that could last several months". The era of Ellis Island was also the era of steam ships. Maybe some ocean journeys lasted several months, but most of them lasted only a couple of weeks.
Later chapters are more down to earth, giving practical, useful (albeit terse) information on tracing immigrant ancestors (not limited to Ellis Island).
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