Ellis Island Exhibition to Trace the History of Tartan Day

The 22nd annual Tartan Day on Ellis Island program will celebrate “The Story of Tartan Day” In addition to the new exhibition, Ellis Island will celebrate Tartan Day with a whole host of performers. As part of National Tartan Day, an exhibition tracing the story of Tartan Day, from its inception in Nova Scotia in 1986 to Congressional proclamations, the day recognizes Scots’ manifold contributions in science, industry, sports, politics and the fine arts throughout America’s history.

The event is produced by the Learned Kindred of Currie through their educational foundation, the Clan Currie Society. Research/writer for the exhibition is Matt Potter and design has been led by Melana Currie of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada serves as the exhibition designer. To commemorate National Tartan Day in song and dance, Ellis Island will also play host to a company of pipers, drummers, Highland Dancers, storytellers and more during Tartan Day Weekend, April 5-7. Admission is to the exhibit is free. Visitors will need to purchase ferry tickets to the island from www.statuecruises.com

The largest Tartan Day celebration in the world

The Ellis Island Tartan. Photo: Scottish Register of Tartans.

Tartan Day on Ellis Island is one of the principal Scottish heritage events in the United States. Playing host to literally thousands of domestic and international visitors each day, it is the largest Tartan Day celebration in the world. Ellis Island is a fitting place to observe Tartan Day. The island and its historic buildings represent America’s “Golden Door.” From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island. Although many Scots arrived during the colonial period of our history – helping to build the new nation – an additional half-million Scots came through Ellis Island. It has been estimated that 40% of Americans today can trace at least one ancestor’s entry into the United States through Ellis Island. Describing the annual program, noted Scottish journalist and author Roddy Martine reported that of all the Tartan Day events held in the United States, the Ellis Island observance has, “stood out as a beacon of what USA Tartan Day is all about: the emigrant ancestors of ordinary Americans who over three centuries crossed the Atlantic Ocean to create the world’s greatest democracy.”

Tartan Day on Ellis Island is produced by the Clan Currie Society – the non-profit wing of the Learned Kindred of Currie – one of the preeminent Scottish heritage organizations in the United States. The Society began their successful collaboration with the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in 2002 in the coordination and sponsorship of their first Tartan Day celebration. As part of the celebrations for Tartan Day 2011, the Clan Currie Society commissioned a specially designed Ellis Island Tartan© to mark the 10th Anniversary of Tartan Day on Ellis Island. Each color in the tartan reflects upon the American immigrant experience. The blue represents the ocean that had to be crossed to reach the American shores. The copper-green is the color of the Statue of Liberty. The red depicts the bricks of the Ellis Island buildings where 12 million Americans took their first steps towards freedom. The gold is the “golden door” that is the United States of America and the dawn of a new life in America.

Past programs have included “A Celebration of Tartan,” “Scots of New York,” “Captain Kidd and the Hangman’s Noose,” “Scots of the American West,” and “The Jacobites and America.”

Tartan Day on Ellis Island takes place at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, April 6-24, 2023, 10:00am-4:00 pm. For details see: www. facebook.com/TartanDayonEllisIsland

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