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the specific case of Ellis Island. Although the NPS has no designated path to follow, the one favored most by park rangers and outside professionals follows the route immigrants took and begins in the old Baggage Room and proceeds up a restored stairway to the Registry Room, or Great Hall. After that, visitors are free to see the exhibits "Through America's Gate," which gives step-by-step details of the processing procedure; "Peak Immigration Years: 1880-1924," about the origins of immigration and immigrants' lives in the U.S.; "Ellis Island Chronicles," an overview of the island's history to 1954; "Silent Voices," which pictorially documents the process of abandonment and restoration; "Treasures from Home," a display of artifacts immigrants brought with them from their homes; "The Peopling of America," situating Ellis Island's role in the broader context of global immigration; and the memorial American Immigrant Wall of Honor, which lists the names of over 500,000 immigrants whose progeny made a minimum donation of $100 to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.31

While the exhibits and displays do give a broad overview of immigration, present a full picture of the immigration process before, during, and after Ellis Island, and deal specifically with the facilities on Ellis Island, the official meanings intended by the creators do not always transfer well to the public's interpretation. For instance, according to Ellis Island and the Peopling of America: The Official Guide, the interpretive plan for the museum documents the island's function as an immigration station. A major exhibit is "The Peopling of America," which "contextualizes [the immigrant processing] story by documenting immigration to the United States from all the world's continents including Africa, Asia, and South America over the course of American history." However, most visitors concentrate on the Great Hall and the exhibits which more directly pertain to immigration as they see it than "The Peopling of America's" colorful graphics and


31. Tift, Ellis Island; Judith Smith, "Celebrating Immigration History at Ellis Island," American Quarterly 44 (1992): 82-100; Mike Wallace, "Exhibition Review," Journal of American History 78 (1991): 1023-1032; Yans-McLaughlin and Majorie Lightman, Ellis Island and the Peopling of America: The Official Guide (New York: The New Press, 1996).
32. Yans-McLaughlin and Lightman, Ellis Island and the Peopling of America, 78.
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