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Lorie Conway, Forgotten Ellis Island 

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“How rare it is to find an absolutely fascinating story that has never been told.” 

~ Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin


Forgotten Ellis Island tells the lost story of the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital that saved tens of thousands of lives as immigrants flooded onto Ellis Island a century ago. It was here that the germs of the world converged. The hospital was both welcoming and foreboding to those too sick to enter the country. Those nursed to health were allowed to become citizens. 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 began shutting its border to all but a favored few, the hospital fell into disuse and decay and then into emptiness, its medical wards left open only to the salt air of the New York Harbor. For two years, author Lorie Conway filmed exclusive video of the abandoned hospital buildings for the companion film (also available here) to this book. With many never-seen-before photographs and video, Forgotten Ellis Island tells the untold story of the hospital's immigrant patients, their families, and medical staff. 

“To those who went through it,” said former patient John Henry Wilberding, “it was one of the most precious gifts you were given because when you were sick, you couldn't do anything about it. But here is a place that rescued you. That made you feel good that you were still being cared for and in a strange place thousands of miles away from home. People can never say that America isn't a place of compassion and understanding, because they certainly proved it there.”

Forgotten Ellis Island 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