Portraits from Ellis Island

12 Portraits of Ellis Island Immigrants

12 million people of every nationality imaginable passed through Ellis Island during its operation. The building opened in 1892, but five years later burned completely to the ground. A new, larger building was constructed to process 5,000 immigrants per day. On April 17th, 1907, 11,747 immigrants were processed.

People fled to America because of war, famine and a lack of opportunity. In certain cases entire villages of people packed up and moved – bringing with them customs, cuisine and culture.

The portraits in this series were taken by Augustus Sherman. Sherman worked as a clerk at Ellis Island from 1892 to 1925. His portraits of the people who passed through the Island were not official documents. They were merely the results of a man fascinated by foreign culture.

From the New York Public Library.

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