Forgotten Ellis Island: the Extraordinary Story of America’s Immigrant Hospital
Producer – Lorie Conway
In Distribution, 2007
Premiering on PBS February 2, 2009!
In October, 2007, Smithsonian Books/Harper Collins is publishing the first book written by Lorie Conway, about the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, one of the largest in the world at the turn of the 20th century. The first documentary film, featuring exclusive location footage and interviews with former patients, will relate the lost history of this “hospital of all nations.”
From 1902 until 1930, the enormous medical complex on Ellis Island — where for many years, most immigrants tried to gain admittance to the United States — was like no other hospital on earth. It was the largest Public Health Service hospital in the country: twenty-two buildings, in all. More importantly, it was the setting for a conflict that virtually defines the issue of government in America — a conflict between those who wanted to help the dis-enfranchised, and those who wanted to exclude them.
Some powerful and very basic political questions loomed behind hundreds of thousands of medical decisions that the physicians made on Ellis Island. What should America be? And who is it for?
In 1998, when producer/writer Lorie Conway first read about the Ellis Island immigrant hospital, she decided to pursue the production of a documentary film and companion book about its history. Over the course of one year, Boston Film and Video Productions were given exclusive access to film the abandoned Ellis Island location.
Since there are no books or films produced about the hospital, her research and writing on the subject has been informed by a panel of academic advisors and scholars of immigration, public health, and the history of medicine. The documentary has been awarded three NEH grants– for development, scripting and most recently, production. The film premiered on Ellis Island and is being produced for public television with an abbreviated version produced for the Ellis Island museum.
The DVD and the book will be sold at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, which receive three million visitors annually. Restoration of the abandoned hospital buildings located on the south side of Ellis Island is currently underway. Re-use plans include a public health museum and immigration institute.
For more information, please visit http://www.forgottenellisisland.com/