Hope and Tears


Number of pages: 115

Publication date: March 2012

Price: $17.95

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills Press

Ordering: 1-800-490-5111

Author: Gwenyth Swain

For in-person and Skype visits: Contact me via email.

My blog: http://story-slinger.blogspot.com/



Once the nation’s largest immigration station, Ellis Island is now a museum dedicated to America’s melting pot past. It’s also a place packed with stories.

In Hope and Tears: Ellis Island Voices, I try as a writer and student of history to bring these stories forward from the shadowy past.

The cast of characters is vast: From a Lenni Lenape Indian, to Samuel Ellis, tavern- and island-owner, to a fifteen-year-old Irish girl named Annie Moore, to a nurse treating sick immigrants in the island’s hospital wing, to a National Park Service employee, turning out the lights at the end of  a long day.

Meet them all as they tell their stories in letters, diary entries, poems, monologues, and dialogues. These are voices you won’t soon forget…voices of America’s immigrant past. Voices full of hope and of tears.

What Others Are Saying about Hope and Tears:

Hope and Tears invites you into the enthralling world of Ellis Island. Thanks to the artful pen of Gwenyth Swain, immigrants and island workers of long ago speak to the heart of immigration and the struggle of life in a new world.”

        —Barry Moreno, librarian, Bob Hope Memorial Library,

Ellis Island Immigration Museum


Starred review Publisher’s Weekly, 2/27/2012: “A rich pairing of fact and imagination that provides genuine insight into the immigrant experience.”

Horn Book review, 3/12: “Mixing fictional monologues, dialogues, letters, and poems with real photographs and factual essays, this volume conjures up the soul of Ellis Island.”

Booklist review, 4/15/2012: “In fictionalized monologues, dialogues, prose poems, letters, and mini plays, Swain creates a collection of personal coming-to-America stories, based on intensive research at the Ellis Island Museum archives.”

Kirkus review, 4/2012: “Copiously illustrated with photographs, illustrations and maps, this is a solid resource in an attractive format for those studying immigration and working on oral-history projects.”

Awards & Honors:

•Writing and research for Hope and Tears was supported in part by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.


Hope and Tears: Ellis Island Voices


Photo Credits: All photos by Gwenyth Swain, except for top left: National Park Service, Ellis Island National Monument.