[Cossack Man, Ellis Island, New York]
Augustus Frederick Sherman American
Not on view
Between 1880 and 1910, the United States witnessed an incredible growth in annual immigration, which nearly doubled from 450,000 to 880,000 arrivals. The photographic career of Augustus Frederick Sherman coincided with this extraordinary period in the nation’s history. Working concurrently with the social reformer Lewis Hine, Sherman distinguished his photographs by isolating individuals from the cacophony of the great reception hall at Ellis Island. In contrast to Hine, who worked as an independent photographer, Sherman gained access to his subjects by leveraging his position as an employee of the Executive Division of Immigration, where he worked from 1892 until his death in 1925. As seen here, he sought out diverse racial and ethnic types and documented with simple respect the optimistic if generally anxious newcomers, often clothed in their national dress.