Portraits from Ellis Island

12 Portraits of Ellis Island Immigrants

12 million people of every nationality imaginable passed through the doors of Ellis Island. The building opened in 1892, but five years later burned completely to the ground. A 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 lack of opportunity. In certain cases entire villages of people packed up and moved – bringing their customs, cuisines and cultures.

The portraits in this series were taken by Augustus Sherman. Sherman worked as a clerk at Ellis Island from 1892 to 1925.

From the New York Public Library.