35 Ellis Island Immigration Photos That Capture American Diversity

Published May 25, 2016
Updated August 5, 2020

Contrary to what some might have you believe, American identity can look like many things. These Ellis Island immigration photos prove it.

As a clerk at Ellis Island from 1892-1925, Augustus Sherman was in a unique position to document countless immigrants as they attempted to gain entrance into the United States.

The untrained photographer had an undeniable natural talent: Even with bulky cameras and the time-consuming exposure process they required, Sherman was able to take more than 200 photos — of subjects typically detained for interrogation — that reveal as much about the subjects’ fears as they do the diverse reality of our national heritage:

Albanian Soldier
Algerian Man
Ellis islanf immigrant portraits Alsace Lorraine
Bavarian Man
35 Ellis Island Immigration Photos That Capture American Diversity
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All photos taken by Augustus Sherman (ca. 1905-1914)

Next, check out these chilling photos of American child labor in the early 20th century and striking photographs of people around the world at the turn of the 20th century.

Erin Kelly
An All That’s Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she’s designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.