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Rare Portraits of Early 20th Century Ellis Island Arrivals

It’s no secret that the USA is a country built on immigration, however, I never imagined the diversity of the melting pot of people that were coming through the Ellis Island immigration station in New York during the early part of the 20th Century!

 

The Ellis Island immigration station processed a staggering 12 million immigrants between 1892 and 1954. Its peak year was 1907, during which over 1 million immigrants, between 3,000 and 5,000 per day, we processed during a single year.

The immigrants mostly came from Europe and its periphery, and most entered the USA after just a few hours of questioning. Some, however, were detained for longer periods.

It was during this detention period that Augustus Francis Sherman, Ellis Island’s chief registry clerk, spent his time persuading the new arrivals to put on their finest clothes or national dress and be photographed by him.

His photographs, which simply had his subject’s place of origin as caption, were first published in National Geographic in 1907.

A most incredible statistic is that 100 million of America’s 322 million people can trace their ancestry back to individuals that arrived in the country via the Ellis Island immigration station. Take a look at these beautiful vintage portrait shots:

 
Click on the images to see them in full size
 
A Guadeloupean woman photographed in 1911. 
The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Image: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

Left: A Laplander (1910). Right: A Greek Orthodox priest (1910). 

The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Images: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

Left: Russian Cossacks (1906). Right: Dutch women (1910). 

The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Images: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

Three Scottish boys photographed in 1910. 

The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Image: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 
A Dutch woman, circa 1910. 
The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Image: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

Left: Slovak lady and children (1910). Right: Lapland children (1910). 

The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Image: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

Left: An Albanian soldier (1910). Right: An Italian woman (1910). 

The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Image: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

A girl from Alsace-Lorraine, then part of the German Empire (1906). 

The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Image: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

A Bavarian man (circa 1910).  The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Image: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

Left: A Ukrainian woman (1906). Right: An Algerian man (circa 1910). 

The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Images: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

Left: A Romanian piper (circa 1910). Right: An Italian woman (1906). 

The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Images: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 
A German stowaway photographed in 1911. 
The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Image: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

Left: Dutch children (1910). Right: Two pipers - unknown origin (1910). 

The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Images: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

Left: A Turkish man (1912). Right: A Gypsy family (1910). 

The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Images: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

Left: A Hindu boy from India (1911). Right: A Romanian shepherd (1906). 

The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Images: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 
A girl from Sweden's Dalama province, circa 1910. 
The Variety Of People That Arrived At Ellis Island Was Staggering...

Image: Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

Content Source: Mashable
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