Galveston became an alternative to Ellis Island (the immigration center in New York City), and it took in many immigrants from about 1900 until the start of World War I. The immigration of Jews to Galveston (and beyond) from 1907-1914 has been called the “Galveston Movement.”
Bernard Marinbach popularized the nickname with his book Galveston: Ellis Island of the West (1983).
Handbook of Texas Online
GALVESTON COUNTY. Galveston County (G-19) is located on the Gulf Coast of Texas eighty miles southwest of the Louisiana state line, east of Brazoria County, and west of Chambers County; it is bounded by the Gulf of Mexico on the southeast. The county comprises mainland, Galveston Bay, and Galveston Island. The island, a slowly eroding bank of sand measuring three miles at its greatest breadth and twenty-eight miles at its greatest length, extends two miles southwest along the Gulf. Other barrier islands include Pelican Island, four miles out from Galveston, which was described in 1815 as a “narrow strip of marsh” and subsequently grew from shell deposits into an island four miles long and a half mile wide. Bolivar Peninsula is a slender strip of mainland northeast of Galveston Island and almost in line with it. Both Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island form natural storm barriers for Galveston Bay, which constitutes nearly half of the county’s almost 450-square-mile area. The entrance to Galveston harbor, between Bolivar Point and Galveston Island, is about 1½ miles wide. Galveston, the county seat, is located at roughly the geographical center of the county (29°18’ N, 94°47’ W) on the Coastal Plain.
Fortunes were reversed temporarily, if catastrophically, when the Galveston hurricane of 1900 killed thousands of people and destroyed much of the city. Recovery was swift, however, and by 1910 citizens had developed the commission form of city government,qv constructed a seawall, and raised the grade throughout the city. Construction of Hotel Galvez in 1911 foreshadowed growing tourism in the county. At the same time, Galveston took on a new role as a port of entry. When the federal government replaced state administrations in processing immigrants at the turn of the century, efforts began to redirect the flow of immigration from the Northeast to Texas. Pelican Island became federal property, and the government constructed an immigration center and quarantine station there. In the Northeast, Jacob H. Schiff presided over the Galveston Movement, which tried to offset Taft administration efforts to restrict immigration. Between 1906 and 1914 nearly 50,000 immigrants arrived at Galveston, including Bohemians, Moravians (see CZECHS), Galicians, Austrians, Romanians, Swiss, English, Poles, Italians, Dutch, and some 10,000 Jews. By 1915 Galveston was considered a “second Ellis Island.” The flow of immigration ceased in World War I, and the immigration center was demolished in 1972.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: (...) Bernard Marinbach, Galveston: Ellis Island of the West (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983).
Handbook of Texas Online
GALVESTON MOVEMENT. The Galveston Movement operated between 1907 and 1914 to divert Jews fleeing the pogroms of Russia and eastern Europe away from congested communities of the Atlantic coast to the interior of the United States. The Jewish Immigrants’ Information Bureau directed the movement as a means of preventing an anticipated wave of anti-Semitism on the Eastern seaboard, which might lead to immigration restrictions. Several benevolent groups tried to find a southern port of entry to disperse the burgeoning population.
The bureau considered three ports. Charleston, South Carolina, explicitly wanted Anglo-Saxon immigrants, and New Orleans, a thriving urban center where Jews might be inclined to settle instead of moving on into the interior, posed a recurrent threat of yellow fever. Galveston, which was closer to job opportunities in the West, seemed the best choice. Besides its location, Galveston was a passenger port for Lloyds Shipping Company, which served the German port of Bremen, through which East European Jews traditionally left the continent. Also, Galveston’s small size did not encourage large numbers of Jews to settle there permanently.
Between 1907 and 1914, when it ceased operation, the Jewish Immigrants’ Information Bureau brought 10,000 immigrants through Galveston, approximately one-third the number who migrated to the Holy Land during the same period. In 1983 a documentary film about the movement, West of Hester Street, was made with assistance of the Texas Committee for the Humanities.qv
High Beam Research
Galveston: Ellis Island of Texas.
From: Journal of Cultural Geography | Date: March 22, 2003 | Author: Hardwick, Susan W.
ABSTRACT. The isolated windswept port of Galveston, located on the Texas Gulf Coast, served as the entry point for tens of thousands of immigrants from many parts of the world between 1850 and 1920. This paper maps, analyzes, and compares the ethnic/racial geography of this “Ellis Island of Texas” using a triangulation of ethnographic methods…
Texas Seaport Museum - Galveston Immigration Database
Galveston Immigration Database
TEXAS SEAPORT MUSEUM
(This database may not be working—ed.)
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, January 28, 2007 • Permalink