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Course Catalog

The Golden Door: Passing Through Ellis Island  

Doug Kenning U.S. Immigration to the United States can be graphed as an undulating landscape with twin peaks: the Ellis Island years at the turn of the 20C and the Hispanic-Asian immigration of today. The first shaped 20th Century America; and the second is shaping the future. Today’s SF State OLLI demographic is dominated by descendants of those who came through Ellis Island. The greatest numbers of these were Italians and Eastern European Jews. We will look at what drove them to emigrate, their voyage, the experience of Ellis Island processing, and America’s nervous welcome. But as every experience was unique, we also will research individual family stories of people in the class who want to participate. Together we’ll deepen our understanding of the forces that made modern America, and our own family’s place in it. Class 1 -- Ellis Island history and late 19C America. Ellis Island opens 1892. Annie Moore arrives. First decade cut short by fire. Class 2 – 1892~WW1. Eastern Europeans and the remaking of America. The voyage and processing procedure. Your stories. Class 3 – 1892~WW1. Eastern Europeans and the remaking of America, cont. our stories. Class 4 – 1892~WW1. Italians and Southern Europeans and the remaking of America. Your stories. Class 5 – WW1~1924, closing the door on the ingrates. Ellis Island in semi-retirement. Your stories. Class 6 – The National Immigration Center and Museum. Summary of Ellis Island impact. Your stories. Douglas Kenning (PhD, Edinburgh) has taught at universities in Tunisia, Japan, and Italy. Besides a university professor, he has been a biologist, actor, army officer, Manhattan taxi driver, academic administrator, and writer. He divides each year between the Bay Area, lecturing on Mediterranean histories and cultures, and Sicily, where he runs Sicily Tour, a small tour guide business.


This class is not available at this time.