The New Americans: Look into the faces of newly arrived immigrants on Ellis Island (1904-24)

PODCAST The epic tale of Ellis Island and the process by which millions of new immigrants entered the United States.

For millions of Americans, Ellis Island is the symbol of introduction, the immigrant depot that processed their ancestors and offered an opening into a new American life.

But for some, it would truly be an ‘Island of Tears’, a place where they would be excluded from that life.

How did an island with such humble beginnings — ‘Little Oyster Island’, barely a sliver of land in the New York harbor — become so crucial? Who is the ‘Ellis’ of Ellis Island?  And how did it survive decades of neglect to become one of New York’s most famous tourist attractions?

FEATURING our special guest Tanya Bielski-Braham (currently of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh) who walks us through her own family’s immigration experience over a century ago — from Eastern Europe to America.

THIS SHOW WAS ORIGINALLY RELEASED TEN YEARS AGO THIS MONTH ON JULY 31, 2009!

________________________________________________________________________

3109321887_80316162b4_o
3110156350_aa991feab2_o

Here’s a look at many of the faces of newly arriving immigrants from between the years 1904 and 1924, photos by Augustus Frederick Sherman, a clerk on Ellis Island.  

Interestingly these are not ‘official’ photographs. Sherman himself was particularly interested in national costume and mostly chose subjects who happened to be wearing the most flamboyant apparel from their respective countries.   You can see more pictures from this series at the National Park Service website on Ellis Island.   The particular images below are courtesy New York Public Library

Dutch brother and sister from the island of Marken in the Zuiderzee.

NYPL
NYPL

A woman from Guadeloupe, Caribbean. 1911

Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) -- Photographer. [1911]
Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) — Photographer. [1911]
3109329615_7d035f713c_o

Girl from the Kochersberg region near Strasbourg, Alsace, France.

NYPL, Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) -- Photographer. [ca. 1906]
NYPL, Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) — Photographer. [ca. 1906]

A shepherd from Romania, 1906/

Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) -- Photographer. [ca. 1906]
Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) — Photographer. [ca. 1906]

Boys from Scotland.

Courtesy NYPL. Augustus F. Sherman [ca. 1906-1914]
Courtesy NYPL. Augustus F. Sherman [ca. 1906-1914]

Romani people from Serbia, 1906.

Courtesy NYPL, Sherman, Augustus F. -- Photographer. [ca. 1906]
Courtesy NYPL, Sherman, Augustus F. — Photographer. [ca. 1906]
Sherman, Augustus F. -- Photographer. [ca. 1906]
Sherman, Augustus F. — Photographer. [ca. 1906]

An indigenous Sami woman from Finland.

NYPL -- Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905
NYPL — Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905

Russian Cossacks, 1906

NYPL, Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) -- Photographer. [ca. 1906]
NYPL, Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) — Photographer. [ca. 1906]

A Slovak woman with her children, 1906

NYPL Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) -- Photographer. [ca. 1906-1914]
NYPL Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) — Photographer. [ca. 1906-1914]

A Danish man named Peter Meyer, from Svendborg, 1905.

NYPL, 'Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905-1920' (c1905)
NYPL, ‘Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905-1920’ (c1905)

An Indian boy named Thumbu Sammy, aged 17, who came to America on the SS Adriatic, April 14, 1911.

3096601972_4f0e4908c9_o

An Italian woman, her name and former home unknown, 1906.

Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) -- Photographer. [ca. 1906]
Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) — Photographer. [ca. 1906]

A merry piper from Romania.

Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) -- Photographer. [ca. 1906]
Sherman, Augustus F. (Augustus Francis) — Photographer. [ca. 1906]

Identified as a ‘Protestant woman from Zuid-Beveland, province of Zeeland, The Netherlands’

3110164742_e3dfe8b609_o

Wilhelm Schleich, a miner from Hohenpeissenberg, Bavaria

NYPL
NYPL
3109331515_9fe40e9f9b_o

A gentleman from Algeria.

NYPL
NYPL

A Greek immigrant in his palace guard uniform from home.

NYPL
NYPL

“Lapland children, possibly from Sweden.”

3109329301_cc94e8eda8_o

Algerian man, date unknown

German stowaway