17 Astonishing Portraits of Immigrants From America’s Past


Sometimes, browsing through Facebook comments, I’m reminded how easily people forget their roots. Just the other day one girl was freaking out that her DNA test said she’s got European ancestors. “But that’s impossible! My mom is an American, so how can I have British genes?” – she said. Luckily, good people reminded her how genes work and who built America. I really hope I don’t have to explain this here in detail to you, my loyal readers, so let’s get straight to the point of this article.


In early 1900’s to 1920, chief registry clerk on Ellis Island, Augustus Sherman, who also happened to dabble in photography, snapped over 200 photos of immigrants from Europe and Asia. Ellis Island was their last stop before becoming legitimate United States citizens. As you’re about to see, people fled their countries alone, with their families, their loved ones, wearing traditional garb, and, frankly, looking goofy as hell. Anyway, next time you hear your idiot uncle spew crap about immigrants taking his job, remind him about his ancestors. Unless he’s a native American, in which case just nod and eat your mashed potatoes.


Here are some of Sherman’s portraits from that era. Enjoy!



1. Just a Greek woman.



2. And here’s a Chinese lady.



3. 3 men and a young lady from Morocco.

4. Straight from Norway.



5. Did you know Georgia used to have horsemen?



6. Two dorky Swedish kids.

7. A soldier from Albania.



8. A cute Ruthenian



9. Wherever Guadeloupe is, she’s apparently from there.

10. A happy (and quite big) Jewish family.



11. From Belarus with love.



12. Another huge family, this time from Denmark (1908).

13. Apparently this German guy was a stowaway.



14. More Dutch visitors.

15. This Greek soldier looks like a bearded ballerina.

16. An actual Laplander?



17. And finally, here’s a Slovakian woman with her kids.