"Remarks Presented at Ellis Island, New York" [Reminiscence]
This was a most nostalgic time for me because, on this occasion, I was accompanied by many I had worked with in the previous
eight years and I was very shortly to step down from my duties at the end of my second full-term as Surgeon General.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (73,042 Bytes)
Koop, C. Everett
Reproduced with permission of C. Everett Koop.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
United States Public Health Service
Emigration and Immigration
Remarks Presented at Ellis Island, New York (September 28, 1989)
Box Number: 9
Folder Number: 1989 Sep 18
Lecture Vol. 1 -Tab F (Post. SG Yrs. ) cover
By C. Everett Koop, MD, ScD
Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Presentation at the Centennial of the Establishment of the Commissioned Corps of the Marine Hospital Service
Ellis Island, New York
September 18, 1989
To the historian, there is something at Ellis Island, which is more than any symbol in America, calls to mind our history
as a nation of immigrants. From 1892, when the first immigration station was opened in New York Harbor until the facilities
were padlocked in 1954, an estimated 12 million would-be Americans passed through Ellis Island.
A great deal of the history of the Public Health Service was made at Ellis Island when those 12 million immigrants were -
theoretically at least - passed under the watchful eye of the public health officials in order to keep contagious disease
out of the country. At the time of my remarks, Ellis Island was in the beginning of rejuvenation under the auspices of the
National Park Service in conjunction with the Statue of Liberty Foundation. The Great Hall was to become a national monument.
It was President Grover Cleveland who signed into law an act "To establish the Commissioned Corps to the Marine Hospital
Service". This became the present Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service.
The public health work on Ellis Island was divided between "the line" where newly arriving immigrants were examined
and staffing the 650 beds in the two hospitals built for the care of sick arrivals. Another responsibility was boarding of
incoming ships to inspect cargos and crews. In those days, every commissioned officer of that epic served on a tour of duty
on Ellis Island