volunteers at Ellis Island and other ports of entry served
as interpreters, helped immigrants locate relatives or places
to live, and provided temporary housing, legal aid, and
employment assistance. Following is an excerpt from a Yiddish-language
pamphlet distributed to Jewish immigrants arriving at Ellis
Island, ca. 1912.
immigrant who needs assistance from [HIAS] agents should hold
in his hand or have pinned upon his coat . . . the card of
identification which has been given out by the ship's doctor.
. . . The agent will come to meet the immigrants and, when
necessary, will act as their interpreter in the examination
that is necessary before admission.
The immigrants who have been admitted, but have neither
relatives nor friends to receive them, are taken by these
same agents to the office of HIAS. . . . They will be accompanied,
together with their baggage, either to their respective
destinations in other parts of the city, or to the railway
station to continue their journey. The agents who undertake
this duty are entirely worthy of confidence, and their services
are rendered without any charge whatever. . . .
The home of HIAS is open day and night. . . . Accommodations
are provided for men, women and children. There is an interpreter
Jews . . . . Pen, ink and paper are supplied free, as
are also newspapers. Immigrants may use this Society as
a forwarding address for letters. There are excellent baths,
always at the free disposal of guests.