This Simple Puzzle Test Sealed the Fate of Immigrants at Ellis Island

May 19, 2017

(NPR) – A wooden puzzle in the silhouette of a human head might look fun if the stakes weren’t so high. Historians at Smithsonian Magazine say this simple puzzle containing facial features broken into pieces was administered to immigrants at Ellis Island in the early 1900s. The goal was to weed out the “feeble-minded” and ensure that a “better class” of foreign-born people was ushered into U.S. citizenship. The puzzle is currently housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

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