Ellis Island immigrants: Portraits by Augustus Sherman, circa 1905-1914

Yahoo News Photo Staff

President Donald Trump reiterated his demands for immigration reform during a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers on Tuesday, saying any bill to address young immigrants brought to the United States illegally must also provide a border wall.

Trump, speaking to reporters as he convened the group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the White House, said he wants a bipartisan fix and believes both sides will negotiate in good faith on the issue.

Over a century ago as immigration to the United States swelled, the Ellis Island immigration station opened in New York harbor in 1900. By 1907, the peak year of immigration, 3,000 to 5,000 newcomers a day were examined at Ellis Island as they sought permanent entry to the country.

Many photographers were drawn to Ellis Island by the general human interest and newsworthiness of the scene. One amateur photographer, Augustus Sherman, a registry clerk at Ellis Island, had special access to potential subjects for his camera. It is possible that William Williams, then the commissioner of immigration for the port of New York at Ellis Island, requested that Sherman photograph specific individuals and groups. It is also likely that Sherman’s elaborately costumed subjects were detainees, new immigrants held at Ellis Island for one reason or another. While waiting for what they needed to leave the island (an escort, or money, or travel tickets), some of these immigrants may have been persuaded to pose for Sherman’s camera, donning their best holiday finery or national dress, which they had brought with them from home.

Sherman’s photographs were published in National Geographic in 1907 and for decades hung anonymously in the lower Manhattan headquarters of the federal Immigration Service. Incoming correspondence in the William Williams Papers, bequeathed to the New York Public Library, suggests that the commissioner gave copies of Sherman’s haunting photographs to official Ellis Island visitors as mementos. (Reuters/New York Public Library)

Photography by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library

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<p>Guadeloupean woman, German stowaway, Alsace-Lorraine girl. (Photography by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Guadeloupean woman, German stowaway, Alsace-Lorraine girl. (Photography by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Italian woman, 1906. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Italian woman, 1906. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Romanian piper. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Romanian piper. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Slovak woman and children. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Slovak woman and children. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Bavarian man. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Bavarian man. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Lapland children, possibly from Sweden. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Lapland children, possibly from Sweden. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Dutch woman. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Dutch woman. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Romanian woman. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Romanian woman. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Slovakian women. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Slovakian women. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Cossack man from the steppes of Russia. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Cossack man from the steppes of Russia. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Girl from Rättvik, province of Dalarna, Sweden. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Girl from Rättvik, province of Dalarna, Sweden. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Guadeloupean woman, 1911. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Guadeloupean woman, 1911. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Greek woman, 1909. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Greek woman, 1909. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Gypsy family. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Gypsy family. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Rev. Joseph Vasilon, Greek-Orthodox priest. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Rev. Joseph Vasilon, Greek-Orthodox priest. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Ruthenian woman, 1906. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Ruthenian woman, 1906. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Hindoo boy, 1911. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Hindoo boy, 1911. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Norwegian woman, c. 1906 – 1914. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Norwegian woman, c. 1906 – 1914. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Dutch children. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Dutch children. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Alsace-Lorraine girl, 1906. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Alsace-Lorraine girl, 1906. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Romanian shepherd, 1906. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Romanian shepherd, 1906. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Three Dutch women. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Three Dutch women. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Albanian soldier. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Albanian soldier. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Laplander. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Laplander. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>German stowaway, 1911. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

German stowaway, 1911. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Three women from Guadeloupe. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Three women from Guadeloupe. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Danish man, 1909. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Danish man, 1909. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

<p>Italian woman. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library) </p>
Ellis Island immigrants

Italian woman. (Photograph by Augustus Sherman/New York Public Library)

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