The Literacy Test
After 1917, immigrants who were 16 years old or older had to pass a reading test in the language of their home country.
The inspectors presented them with test cards featuring familiar passages from the Bible, which immigrants would then have to read aloud. Failing the literacy test could mean deportation.
Many immigrants coming to America at this time came from countries where the Bible was commonly read in churches and synagogues as well as schools.