NYPL Ellis Island Untapped Cities AFineLynePhoto via NYPL collections

Augustus Frederick Sherman worked as the Chief Registry Clerk on Ellis Island from the years 1892 to 1925. Thousands of people were arriving by ship from countries around the world and Sherman, an amateur photographer, was fascinated by the diversity of cultures. Using long exposures and large box cameras, he captured more than two-hundred images from 1902 to 1914, often encouraging the immigrants to pose in the precious clothing they carried in their suitcases. Recently, the New York Public Library published a collection of his photographs, as seen on Petapixel, giving us a glimpse into this period in our history. Here is a selection from the entire collection:

NYPL Sherman collection-Untapped Cities AFineLyneImmigrant Station, Ellis Island, ferry docked at adjacent pier. Photo via NYPL collections.

Chief Registry Clerk Augustus Sherman Untapped Cities AFineLyneEllis Island with view of the hospital complex behind, now abandoned

Ellis Island Untapped Cities AFineLyneEllis Island with view out to lower Manhattan. Photo via NYPL collections.

Untapped Cities Ellis Island AFineLynePhoto of the Great Hall, which was the Registry Room for those who passed the first mental inspection. Photo via NYPL collections.

Immigrants Ellis Island Untapped Cities AFineLyneImmigrants being served a free meal at Ellis Island. Photo via NYPL collections.

NYC Ellis Island Untapped Cities AFineLynec.1905, “Hungarian Gypsies”. Photo via NYPL collections.

Early 1900's Ellis Island Untapped Cities AFineLyneImmigrants can be seen with trunks and luggage at a building near the Ellis Island pier. Photo via NYPL collections.

Immigrans Station Ellis Island Untapped Cities AFineLynePhoto via NYPL collections.

Augustus Sherman photographs Ellis Island Untapped Cities AFineLynePhoto via NYPL collections.

NYPL Sherman photographs Untapped Cities AFineLynePhoto via NYPL collections.

Many of the immigrant were held on Ellis Island, some waiting for escorts, money or travel tickets. Some were sent back. Augustus Sherman, having access to those in waiting, persuaded his subjects to dress in their finest and pose for his camera. Many of Sherman’s photographs were published in National Geographic in 1907, and hung in the lower Manhattan headquarters of the Federal Immigration Service anonymously for years. In 2005, Aperture published the book Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905-1920 with over one hundred of these photographs.

Continue down below for a selection of these portraits:

Afinelyne Untapped Cities Ellis Islandc.1910, “Romanian piper”

In costume Ellis Island Untapped Cities AFineLynec.1911, “Guadeloupe woman”

Ellis Island NYC Untapped Cities AFineLynec.1910 “Albanian soldier”

Augustus F Sherman Untapped Cities AFineLynec.1906, “Ruthenian woman”

NYC Ellis Island Sherman Untapped Cities AFineLyne“Norwegian woman”

Ellis Island in early 1900's Untapped Cities AFineLynec.1910 “Bavarian man”

Untapped Cities Ellis Island NYC AFineLynec.1910 “Bavarian man”

NYC early 1900's untapped cities afinelyne“Greek soldier”

1900's Ellis Island AFineLyne Untapped Citiesc.1910, “Three Dutch women”

Women at Ellis Island Untapped Cities AFineLyneThree women from Guadeloupe

Slovak woman Ellis Island Untapped Cities AFineLyneSlovak woman and children

To see historical life-sized historical photos installed in the abandoned Ellis Island Hospital complex, join our Unframed JR Tour!

“Unframed Ellis Island” by JR, a guided tour of the exhibition inside Ellis Island’s Abandoned Hospital

Next, read about the Top 10 Secrets of Ellis Island. Get in touch with the author at AFineLyne.