A century ago, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, one of the world's greatest public hospitals was built. Massive and modern, the hospital's twenty-two state-of-the-art buildings were crammed onto two small islands, man-made from the rock and dirt excavated during the building of the New York subway. As America's first line of defense against immigrant-borne disease, the hospital was where the germs of the world converged.
The Ellis Island hospital was at once welcoming and foreboding—a fateful crossroad for hundreds of thousands of hopeful immigrants. Those nursed to health were allowed entry to America. Those deemed feeble of body or mind were deported.
Three short decades after it opened, the Ellis Island hospital was all but abandoned. As America after World War I began shutting its border to all but a favored few, the hospital fell into disuse and decay, its medical wards left open only to the salt air of the New York Harbor.
With many never-before-published photographs and compelling, sometimes heartbreaking stories of patients (a few of whom are still alive today) and medical staff, Forgotten Ellis Island is the first book about this extraordinary institution. It is a powerful tribute to the best and worst of America's dealings with its new citizens-to-be.
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Lorie Conway is an independent producer and filmmaker. Her work has been recognized with the Peabody, DuPont, and Cable Ace awards. In 1993–94, she was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University; she now serves as Vice President of the Nieman Foundation Advisory Board and as an Associate of the Boston Public Library. Her work on Forgotten Ellis Island was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. She lives with her family in Boston, Massachusetts.Review:
"This narrative, with its haunting illustrations, belongs to all of us. I was fascinated." -- Joy Hakim, author of A History of US
Beautifully illustrated, this book offers an important history lesson and illuminates current debates surrounding public health. -- Ruth J. Abram, president, Lower East Side Tenement Museum
How rare it is to find an absolutely fascinating story that has never been told. -- Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals
Lorie Conway has given us the moving human stories which bring these remarkable buildings back to life. -- Peg Breen, president, New York Landmarks Conservancy
Lorie Conway's wonderful book takes a little-known story from medical history and makes it a metaphor for much that epitomizes American history . . . This narrative, with its haunting illustrations, belongs to all of us. I was fascinated. -- Joy Hakim, author of A History of US
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