Ellis Island is celebrated as the point of entry for more than 12 million immigrants that passed through when it was open from 1892 to 1954. So many immigrants passed through the tiny New York island that today we can trace 40% of the American population back to Ellis Island.

Augustus Sherman, the chief registry clerk on Ellis Island from 1892 to 1925, was an avid amateur photographer. His portraits (and labels) of people from all over the world evoke the tenacious spirit these immigrants brought to America.

The New York Public Library has archived his photos and has made them available online. Below you can see Augustus Sherman's portraits with the faces of immigrants who launched their dreams at Ellis Island as well as others whose dreams were cut short.

 

"Guadeloupean Woman," 1911

1911, 'Guadeloupean Woman.'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

Caption identifies woman as "Laplander' and a 'Sami woman from Finland," c. 1920

c. 1920, Caption identifies woman as 'Laplander' and a 'Sami woman from Finland'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Hungarian Gypsies all of whom were deported," 1902

1902, 'Hungarian Gypsies all of whom were deported'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"German stowaway," 1911

german-stowawayAugustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Romanian woman," c. 1905-1914

nyplromanianwomanAugustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Alsace-Lorraine girl," 1906

1906, 'Alsace-Lorraine gir'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"A family of seven sons and one daughter," 1904

afamilyofsevenAugustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Hindoo boy," 1911

199, 'Hindoo boy'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Romanian shepherd," 1906

1906, 'Romanian shepherd'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Slovak woman and children," ca. 1905-1914

slovakwoman-ellisislandAugustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Girl from Rättvik, province of Dalarna, Sweden," c. 1910

c. 1910, 'Girl from Rättvik, province of Dalarna, Sweden.'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Danish man," 1909

1909, 'Danish man'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Dutch children," 1910

1910, 'Dutch children'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Three women from Guadeloupe," c. 1910

c. 1910, 'Three women from Guadeloupe'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Algerian man," c. 1910

C. 1910, 'Algerian man'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Dutch women immigrants, Ellis Island, New York," c. 1910

c. 1910, 'Dutch women immigrants, Ellis Island, New York.'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Ruthenian woman," c. 1906

c. 1906, 'Ruthenian woman'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

Albanian soldier, c. 1910

c. 1910, 'Albanian soldier'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Italian woman," 1906

1906, 'Italian woman'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library

 

"Lapland children, possibly from Sweden," c. 1910

c. 1910, 'Lapland children, possibly from Sweden'Augustus Francis Sherman/New York Public Library