Peter Morton Coan
“…I just remembered staring out over the water to Ellis Island and the Statue… and saying to myself, ‘Thank you.’ Thanks for the memory. That was the first song I sang in the movies… when I hear it I think of that day we arrived at Ellis Island.” —Bob Hope, telling his story in Peter Coan’s Ellis Island Interviews: In Their Own Words
Peter Morton Coan won a spot on the New York Times best-selling list for his 1998 release of Ellis Island Interviews: In Their Own Words (reprinted in 2004). Considered the definitive work on the subject of Ellis Island, Coan’s book contains the stories of more than 130 people who were among the millions of immigrants who came through New York’s infamous “Golden Door” between 1892 and 1954.
Coincidentally, as Coan was in the final stages of his four-year project on Ellis Island’s history, he made a discovery about his own heritage. Unaware until age 40 about the details of his adoption, Coan learned that his biological mother gave birth to him in Cleveland, Ohio. He set out on a search for his blood relatives, culminating two years later in an emotional reunion with his mother, now a resident of Cincinnati.
Coan’s first book, Taxi: The Harry Chapin Story, was published in 1990. The late singer’s biography was followed a year later by the release of a travel book titled, World Tennis Magazine’s Guide to the Best Tennis Resorts.