From 1892 to 1954, Ellis Island saw over 12 million immigrants pass through its inspection station. The first person to go through was a 17-year-old Irish girl on Jan. 1, 1892. But many got stuck on the island, waiting for money, an escort, or a transportation ticket.
Personal stories of these American wannabes inspired the amateur photographer Augustus Sherman. As Ellis Island’s office clerk, he had a unique opportunity to capture immigrants in their national dress. Most of the immigrants were Europeans that had left home because of financial deprivation or persecution.