The Mystery of the Lost Trunk

Activity 8

Grout Museum District Excursion

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The Mystery of the Lost Trunk...

Trunk Advertisement From: Sears and Roebuck Catalog, 1902 c.

It is November of 1910. You and your nine-year-old younger brother have just landed at Ellis Island.

New York, N.Y., Immigrants' Landing, Ellis Island

You are progressing through the eight stops in Ellis Island that all immigrants must follow to be admitted into the United States. You are both eager to join the rest of your family in Waterloo, Iowa.

Immigrants at Ellis Island

  You leave your trunk in the baggage room as required. When you go back to retrieve your trunk, it is nowhere to be found. It has simply disappeared. In 1909, Congress passed a law that immigrants had to have at least $20 with them. After you move through the money exchange you and your brother have $24.50 between you. Fortunately you already have your train tickets from New York to Waterloo. But you need to buy a new trunk and enough clothes to get you to Iowa. You also need money for food.


  1. Print this price list where you will find cost of items you might want or need to purchase in 1910.
  2. From this list, select items you and your brother will need to replace and put in your trunk.
  3. If you do not find an item you need on the price list, estimate what it would cost by comparing prices today with prices in 1910.
  4. Remember—you only have $24.50 between you and your brother. Will you have enough money?

Ladies' Nightgown 75 cents From: Sears and Roebuck 1910 catalog

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