Ellis Island Immigrants’ Oral Histories Go Online

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NEW YORK (AP).- Lawrence Meinwald’s voice starts shaking when he recalls the first time he saw the Statue of Liberty. It was 1920, and the young Polish boy was on a ship with his family, headed to Ellis Island and a new life in America. “It was a great sight. I didn’t know what it meant. But we stayed on deck, and everybody was anxious, and everybody was happy, and everybody was sad,” Meinwald said in an interview recorded years later by the National Park Service. Meinwald has died, but his story lives on for anyone to hear as part of 1,700 oral histories of Ellis Island immigrants that Ancestry.com has put online. For years, the recordings were available only to visitors at the park service’s Ellis Island Immigration Museum, so putting them online was a logical step, said Diana Pardue, chief of the Museum Services Division for the park service. “It makes the stories in the oral histories available to people all over the world, not just people who come to the museum,” she said.