American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Ellis Island: Place and Paradigm

Published January 20, 2012

Vincent DiGirolamo, Baruch College, CUNY
CUNY Graduate Center

Historian Vincent DiGirolamo discusses the historiography of early 20th-century immigration through Ellis Island. The Ellis Island paradigm he describes is the traditional immigrant narrative: push and pull factors lead poor Europeans to sail to the United States in search of better opportunities, they come through Ellis Island and over a generation or two, through a process of assimilation, they eventually “become American.” This is problematic because many immigration stories do not fall neatly into this paradigm. The traditional narrative leaves no room for the many migrants who returned to their home countries; it ignores issues of race that affect the kinds of opportunities people have access to when they get here; and it does not acknowledge people who entered the United States through other ports. In this 30-minute podcast professor DiGirolamo places the subject of Ellis Island immigration during this period into historiographical perspective.

Listen on the web:

Open in popup player
Download as MP3 (30 minutes, 45 seconds)

Or, subscribe on iTunes or another podacst service at (Depending on your settings, you may be able to follow this link or may instead need to paste it into your podcast app/service.)

Latest from the ASHP Podcast