During the great wave of immigration at the turn of the century, 22 medical buildings sprawled across two islands adjacent to Ellis Island, the largest port of entry in the United States. Forgotten Ellis Island is the first film to be produced about the now abandoned immigrant hospital on Ellis Island, which closed in 1954. Massive and modern, the hospital was America's first line of defense against contagious, often virulent disease. The documentary airs on Monday, September 5, at 9:00 p.m. on KUED Channel 7.
In the era before antibiotics, tens of thousands of immigrant patients were separated from family, detained in the hospital, and healed from illness before becoming citizens. More than 350 babies were born in the hospital and many were named after the doctors and nurses who delivered them. Many immigrants died on Ellis Island: 3,500 were buried in paupers' graves around New York City.
For two years, the National Park Service gave producer Lorie Conway exclusive access to film the Ellis Island hospital buildings, as well as to interview former patients at the location. Many never-before published photographs are featured in the film as well as excerpts from oral histories with medical staff, ward matrons, and patients. "As America wrestles once again with the issue of immigration, Forgotten Ellis Island provides a unique lens on this contentious debate," says KUED PRogramming Director. "It is a powerful tribute to the best and worst of America's dealings with its new upcoming citizens."
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