Ellis Island hospital documentary

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Highly recommended!

At 10 pm Monday, Feb. 2, PBS will air Forgotten Ellis Island, a documentary narrated by Elliott Gould about the Ellis Island hospital. All steerage passengers who wished to enter the United States through Ellis Island had to undergo a brief health inspection. Those who failed got a further inspection. Immigrants who couldn’t pass the followup were almost all checked into the Ellis Island hospital (about 1% were deported), where their stays might be brief or might go on for several weeks.

Some sick patients died; some babies were born; and many families were frightened by a separation they didn’t understand. Their stories are fascinating, and you can hear about them and see their faces in this documentary by Lorie Conway. The film also looks at those who were diagnosed as “feebleminded,” which sometimes seems to have amounted to not much more than disagreeable.

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