c.1910: Portraits of Ellis Island Immigrants


These photographs show a tiny handful of the more than 12 million immigrants who entered the United States through the immigration station at New York's Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954. The men and women portrayed are wearing their finest clothes, often their national dress, brought with them from their homeland to America. Around 5,000 immigrants entered the country every day at the height of Ellis Island's activity.

The photographs were taken by Augustus Francis Sherman, the chief registry clerk at Ellis Island and an avid amateur photographer. They were captioned only with the subject's country of origin, and in 1907, the portraits were published in National Geographic.

It is estimated that today more than a third of all Americans have an ancestor who came through Ellis Island.

The photographs are part of the collection of the New York Public Library.



All images: Augustus Sherman / New York Public Library


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