Ellis Island psychological tests for immigrants on display at UA


As Hurricane Sandy swept into the New York Harbor on Oct. 29, 2012, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum was subjected to a tidal surge and waves that covered the island with water. Significant damage to the museum's infrastructure led to an indefinite closure, prompting museum staff to return all materials loaned to them from other museums. This included six psychological tests loaned to the museum by the UA's Center for the History of Psychology (CHP).

The psychological tests were part of an exhibit titled "Through America's Gate," which featured a display on mental testing at Ellis Island in the early 1900s. To be admitted to the United States, immigrants were required to be free from physical and mental illness and capable of earning a living. They were also required to possess adequate mental ability. The psychological tests employed at Ellis Island were designed specifically to be used with individuals unfamiliar with the language and culture of the United States. The CHP collections include many of these original tests.

The CHP loaned the artifacts to Ellis Island in 1990 and they have been on display there ever since. According to the museum's superintendent, the exhibit "has been very successful and enjoyed by the millions of visitors who have come to the museum on Ellis Island since its opening in 1990." The museum hopes to reinstall the exhibit in the future.

For now, however, these one-of-a-kind artifacts are now back at the Center for the History of Psychology, displayed in its gallery space and open for public viewing. Admission to the CHP Museum is free and visitors are welcome Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Visit the Center for the History of Psychology online to learn more.

Media contact: Sarah Lane, 330-972-7429 or slane@uakron.edu.