Ellis Island Immigrants12

It probably wasn’t hard for amateur photographer, Augustus Sherman, to persuade these Ellis Island immigrants to pose for him in their best clothes or national dress. Most people passed easily through the to the mainland within a few hours, while others were held for longer for one reason or another, waiting for an escort, money or tickets, perhaps. They were vulnerable, and As the chief registry clerk for Ellis Island, Sherman had special access to them.

At the station’s peak in 1907, more than one million immigrants passed through in a single year, with 3,000 to 5,000 entering every day, mostly from Europe and around.

His pictures were published in National Geographic in 1907 and for decades and also hung anonymously in the lower Manhattan Federal Immigration Service HQ. Today, more than 100 million Americans — a third of the population — can trace their ancestry back to an individual who immigrated through Ellis Island.

Ellis Island Immigrants2

Scottish boys, circa 1910

Augustus Sherman 1900
Bavarian man, circa 1910

Augustus Sherman 1900
Guadaloupean woman, circa 1910

Augustus Sherman
Greek piper, circa 1910

Augustus Sherman 1900
Greek soldier, circa 1910

Augustus Sherman 1900
Girl from Rattvik in Sweden, circa 1910

Augustus Sherman 1900
Lapland children, circa 1910

Augustus Sherman 1900
Russian Cossacks, circa 1906

Augustus Sherman 1900
Slovakian women, date unknown

Augustus Sherman 1900Ruthanian woman, circa 1906

Augustus Sherman 1900
Danish man, circa 1906

Augustus Sherman 1900
Gypsy family, 1910

Ellis Island Immigrants14
Three Dutch Women, circa 1910

Ellis Island Immigrants15
Turkish man, circa 1912

(Via the New York Public Library digital archives)


  1. Without immigrants like all these people who fled poverty, war and persecution over the years, there would be no U.S.A. as we know it today. I love these pics which represent groups of some of these settlers who helped populate the country and make it great. Sherman took advantage of an ideal opportunity to record this part of history.

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