Today, I spoke with Barry Moreno, a librarian at the Ellis Island library. I told him that I’m interested in the oral histories of Armenian Genocide survivors who came through Ellis Island. He told me there are many Armenian history records in their collection. He also said that most of the Armenians who came through Ellis Island were survivors of the genocide.
When you browse the ship manifests listing the passengers who came to Ellis Island, it is striking how many Armenian surnames you will find. Be sure to visit the Ellis Island website: www.ellisisland.org and check out the various ways to search for your family members. (If you know your grandparents or any family members came through Ellis Island, but you don’t see their names, try misspelling their last names. That’s what I had to do.) You’ll be surprised by what you’ll learn.
Here are a couple of book recommendations:
Ellis Island Images of America by Barry Moreno (this link takes you to a preview, landing on page 84), which features a picture of Tourvanda Ahigian, who became Victoria Haroutunian. She was an Armenian orphan who spent years in an Egyptian orphanage, before coming to America (through Ellis Island). Her daughter, Virginia, wrote a book about her story, An Orphan in the Sands.