Segments in this Video

Introduction: Ellis Island: The Making of a Master Race in America (02:30)


President Theodore Roosevelt and many other Americans once believed in eugenics. These ideas preceded Adolf Hitler's ethnic cleansing by decades.

Galicia, Austria: 1909 (03:42)

Jan Tutak and other residents of his Polish village departed for America after suffering from famine. The U.S. had passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and demonized the Irish.

Northern European Preference (04:07)

Tutak and other immigrants suffered cramped and unsanitary conditions as they crossed the Atlantic. Commissioner of Immigration William Williams, Roosevelt, and others advocated restricting the immigration of Jews, Slavs, Italians and other arrivals from southern and eastern Europe.

Stricter Immigration Laws (05:53)

Eugenicist Prescott C. Hall compared allowing "undesirable aliens" into the country to the importation of diseased cattle. The Immigration Act of 1907 was part of a series of reforms aimed at limiting the flow of these immigrants into the country.

Ellis Island (12:14)

Tutak arrived on Nov. 11, 1909. New arrivals went through several inspection lines, with eugenicist doctors scrutinizing their face, neck, hand, scalp, gait, and general condition. Upon passing initial inspection, they proceeded to an eye examination.

Interrogations and Examinations (08:37)

New arrivals were thoroughly questioned to ensure they were not anarchists, bigamists, paupers, mentally ill, or otherwise “unfit” for entry. Many received marks to indicate a range of potentially disqualifying conditions. Physicals occurred with little privacy.

Mental Evaluation (13:24)

Tutak was among the 9% of immigrants marked with an "X" and taken to the mental room. The extra screening could be the result of something as simple as making a silly expression.

Deportation (07:27)

Eugenicists documented immigrants with unusual appearances. Tutak tried to appeal the decision to deport him based on the assessment that he was “an idiot.” Several of his fellow deportees committed suicide on the return trip.

Template for Ethnic Cleansing (09:10)

Tutak returned to his Polish village, fought in the Great War, and eventually married. Madison Grant and other eugenicists advocated forced sterilization, restrictive marriage, euthanasia, and other means of creating a master Nordic race. The ideas greatly influenced Adolf Hitler.

Credits: Ellis Island: The Making of a Master Race in America (02:42)

Credits: Ellis Island: The Making of a Master Race in America

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Ellis Island: The Making of a Master Race in America

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The faces of immigrants to the U.S. have changed over the years. The fear of them, fear of the other, never has. This film documents the influence of the ideology of race purification, eugenics, and Nordic supremacy on U.S. immigration policies in the early 20th century. It is composed of 800 archival photographs, and narrated by a peasant from Galicia, Austria, who journeyed to America only to be excluded and deported. Produced by Tutak Films. 

Length: 70 minutes

Item#: BVL196450

ISBN: 978-1-64867-518-8

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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