Discover the stories of immigration history at Galveston Historical Foundation’s Galveston Historic Seaport. During the mid-19th century, Galveston, Texas, emerged as an international city, with immigrants coming from around the world, entering the U.S. through the busy port, “the Ellis Island of the West.”

In 2021, the Ship To Shore experience opened, allowing visitors to follow in the footsteps of the early immigrants. Through interactive technology, visitors see everything the immigrants endured, from the long voyage across the ocean to arriving in the 1880s in Galveston and how they made a new life for themselves and their families.

“Ship To Shore captures the reality of travel to Galveston in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” said Dwayne Jones, executive director of the Galveston Historical Foundation. “It brings to life the experiences of real people with raw human stories of survival and challenges that has not been captured before now.”

Ship To Shore experience
Credit: Ship To Shore

Ship To Shore uses a combination of video, animation and graphic novel-style panels to tell the narrative. With hands-on, interactive learning, guests will discover that some of these people survived the trip to America, while others did not. Many settled in Galveston, while others moved to different parts of the country. But all are based on authentic and documented personal stories of those who landed in Galveston. A digital membership card is used to personalize each tour, so a guest receives a new, authentic story every time they visit.

Visitors may look for ancestors via a computer database containing the names of more than 133,000 immigrants who entered the U.S. through Galveston.

The seaport is also home to the historic 1877 tall ship Elissa, a floating National Historic Landmark and one of America’s treasures. The official “Tall Ship of Texas” is only one of three ships of its kind still actively sailing. When visitors come to the museum, they can walk onto the ship and explore the decks at no additional charge.

Discounted rates are available for groups of 20 or more. Museum galleries are wheelchair-accessible.

For more information, call 409-765-7834 or go to

Main image: Galveston’s 19th-century streets, Ship To Shore experience, Galveston Historic Seaport; Credit: Ship To Shore

Article by Mira Temkin