In 1923, the Daughters of the American Revolution became the only society to sponsor occupational work on Ellis Island for those who were detained there. The Daughters provided cloth, yarn, crochet and embroidery supplies that not only helped the immigrants pass the time but also provided much-needed items for their families. Members taught them to crochet belts and neckties, hook rugs, and weave woolen scarves. From 1923 to 1940, DAR contributed approximately $230,000 to support the misplaced thousands at Ellis Island. Their generosity also included 21,000 boxes of supplies, along with sewing machines, looms and carpenter’s tools, along with trained workers who provided instruction and distributed the supplies.
Eventually, as quotas began to limit the numbers of immigrants, the hospital used to treat them became known as the Marine Hospital to treat American merchant seamen and members of the U.S. Coast Guard. At the request of the U.S. Government, in 1934 the Daughters extended their skilled occupational therapy support to these patients, hiring three full-time workers, two therapists and a crafts teacher. Daughters’ contributions funded the salaries as well as supplies needed by this additional staff. Their work with the servicemen continued throughout World War II, when the hospital on Ellis Island became a Marine Hospital for members of the Coast Guard.
While their involvement with Ellis Island immigrants ended when the facility closed in 1951, their support did not. In conjunction with the 1986 centennial restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, under the administrations of Presidents General Sarah M. King, Ann D. Fleck, and Marie H. Yochim, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution raised $771,000 that was donated for the restoration of these symbols of freedom.
The videos below show the work at DAR at Ellis Island,
The digitization of these videos was made possible by the generosity of member donations to the President General's Project.