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Ellis Island Belongs to Everybody

In this interview you will meet Douglas, who works as a Park Ranger on Ellis Island in New York.

Ellis Island Park Ranger
Ellis Island Park Ranger

Douglas shows great interest in his job, and has a lot of knowledge to share with people visiting the museum. The interview takes place in the main hall of this historical building.

Ellis Island, 9:30

Ellis Island, 9:30

Listen to the interview and answer the questions.

  1. What, according to Douglas, is the essence of Ellis Island?
  2. He explains his own job as being an “interpreter”. What does he mean by that?
  3. How can he say that Ellis Island also contains the history of his people?
  4. In what way was Ellis Island a scenario for a “revolution”?
  5. Explain why Ellis Island is also called the “Island of Tears”.
  6. What percentage of those who arrived at Ellis Island made it into America?
  7. What happened with the Ellis Island buildings after they closed down in 1954?
  8. When did Ellis Island re-open as a museum?
  9. What are people looking for when visiting the museum?
  10. How can Douglas claim that Ellis Island belongs to everybody?
  11. How did New York change after September 11, 2001?
  12. Douglas states that 9/11 "brought us together”. What does he mean by that?


  1. The year is 1895. Imagine that you have passed through Ellis Island and were allowed to enter America. Now you are standing in Manhattan, looking over to the Island. You know that your old father, who was on the same journey as you, has not been admitted yet. Write about your own experiences on Ellis Island, and your reflections about what might happen to your father.
  2. Imagine that you are a guide in the Ellis Island Museum. Write a manuscript as a preparation for a guided tour you will be giving to a high school group from Norway. Base your manuscript on the interview you have listened to and your own research on the Internet.
  3. When the buildings on Ellis Island were put up for sale in the 1950s, there were protests against this. Imagine that you were living in the 1950s. Write an article for a newspaper in which you argue against the sale and for Ellis Island being turned into a museum. Give reasons for your argumentation.

Words and Expressions

Explain the meaning of these words/expressions in English:

  • Ranger
  • Essence
  • Revolution
  • Baby boomers
  • Never a rose without a thorn