Helping Irish Girls At Ellis Island - 1906
A Typical Italian Immigrant Family at Ellis Island. Photograph by Arthur Hewitt. The World's Work, October 1902. GGA Image ID # 14f9097c8d
During the past twelve months the Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary opened its doors to nearly fifteen hundred Irish girls, who had landed at Ellis Island. Of all the activities of the Church in this country there are few more effective or more singularly interesting than this great work for the protection of young women on the threshold of a new life—one fraught with numerous perils for the innocent and inexperienced.
To realize fully what this mission does one must make a personal visit to the State St. Home and watch the arrival of the groups of young girls. after the immigration officials have permitted them to leave the Island.
The great landing station for steerage passengers is Ellis Island, New York harbor. Here, almost daily, may be seen thousands from every land, gathered like anxious children at a mother's hem. The immigrants are accommodated in a handsome pile or buildings. well equipped and specially designed for their present use. Within this structure the candidates are examined by federal officials under a system that has been improved year by year.
No longer In the lead in point of numbers, the Irish immigration is still large. considering the population at home. According to the records in the department of statistics at Ellis Island, the Irish Immigrants for the year preceding June 30, 1906, numbered 28,772, including 6,559 who were here before. In the total were 14,617 males and 14,155 females. Of these. 1,171 were under the age of 14; 26,356 were between the ages of 14 and 44; and 1,245 were 45 years or over. The entire money brought amounted to $773,077.00.
The chief aim of the Mission of the Rosary from the beginning has been to guard the faith and morals of the Irish Immigrant girl, and, if necessary, to afford her temporary shelter and hospitality. This it has accomplished faithfully and well, with much other good besides. From continent to continent its Influence extends. Steamship and railroad companies recognize this, and, as a result, are the more vigilant in protecting the immigrant.
The Mission is now established twenty-three years, and, from its founding to the present, every ship that brought Irish immigrants to New York was met at the landing by one or more of its representatives. The girls are interviewed briefly, their names and destination recorded, and information helpful to their guidance and safety conveyed.
A friendly word from the priest, whose very presence inspires confidence, an assurance that relatives will be notified, that with a little patience everything will be well, and the heart is happier and the world much brighter. All the Irish girls not discharged before half-past four in the afternoon, as well as those going to points farther than New York, but unable to resume their Journey, are taken to the Home and kept free of charge until reputable relatives or friends call for them, or until communication with such is established.
For those who have no relatives or friends, as well as for those who have, but who wish to get work without delay, the Mission secures employment in good families. It Is well to add here that Protestant girls from Ireland, England and Scotland have often been willing guests, and that there never has been nor ever will be the least dis-crimination shown or interference with their religious belief.
Within the last twelve month the total number of girls received was 1,474, and for 337 of these positions were obtained.
The cost of maintenance is met chiefly by responses to the appeal in the annual report, and from membership fees in the Rosary Society.
The moving spirit of this great work is the Rev. Michael .1. Henry, who has perhaps the widest circle of acquaintances in all America, for remote indeed is the place where his name Is not known and revered. In the last report of the Mission this zealous director of the Mission pays a tender tribute to the memory of Mr. Patrick McCool, who for more than twenty years had been the agent of the Mission at Ellis Island. "He served his country and he loved his kind."
"Helping Irish Girls At Ellis Island" in Donahoe's Magazine, Volume LVI, No. 6, December 1906