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.