Immigrants’ First Pictures Reveal What It Means To Be American (Historical Kindness)

All these beautiful individuals passed through Ellis Island and went on to build America through their hopes and dreams. All of us in the US are descended from immigrants; let’s not forget that we have them to thank for planting the seeds of the harvest we enjoy today.

Kindness Blog

We often forget that each one of the immigrants who entered this country between 1892 and 1954 was a unique person with their own cultural identity.

These people came to the United States filled with the hope of a better life, and the mingling of their cultures eventually wove the fabric of American identity.

But it’s easy to quantify these people into lists of numbers, names, and nations. It’s far more difficult, however, to reach back into the past and reveal the faces behind those facts and figures.

This is the image that we associate with Ellis Island today.

The Liberty Ellis FoundationWhile the Immigrant Wall of Honor is an incredibly important monument, there’s something distant and isolating about seeing thousands of names etched into shiny stone walls.

But the images that Sherman captured over the course of his career show the true faces of immigration.

From 1892 to 1954, Ellis Island saw…

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About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
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31 Responses to Immigrants’ First Pictures Reveal What It Means To Be American (Historical Kindness)

  1. arlingwoman says:

    Thanks for posting this. It’s very moving.

  2. Maria F. says:

    I saw it and love the photography. Thanks for the reblog

  3. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    I saw this on Kindness Blog. So great that these pictures have been preserved. One has to wonder what their lives were like here, the first or second generations especially. Tough. America was so different then. More welcoming.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Not to sound too cynical, but cheap labor was needed to work the factories and build the nation, as well as fuel the westward expansion. We’re still using the cheap labor, as you probably see more than I do, with your proximity to Mexico. To be honest, there was a lot of animosity and discrimination towards immigrants, horrible stories that few hear about. While there still are people feeling that way today, there might just be more of us feeling more welcoming now than back in the late 19th century. At least I’d like to think so.

      • Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

        I hope so. Our governor is not very welcoming, sadly. There is so much turmoil about it in this part of the country. I guess everywhere. As much as I secretly wish elected people would consult me, haha. I’m really glad I don’t have to know what to do, and have so much pressure against me from people who believe opposite to my values.

  4. Jim Ruebush says:

    We are a quilt of many patches of color, texture, and weave. Beautiful.

  5. MK says:

    What a humbling & inspiring collection of people, brave hearts one and all. Thanks Eliza for sharing that with us.

  6. Julie says:

    We visited Ellis Island some years ago and were very moved by our visit to the immigration museum. There are no easy answers but we can make every effort to show some humanity.

  7. I join the others in gratitude, Eliza. So timely, too

  8. spanishwoods says:

    So true. Great post and link.

  9. Val Boyko says:

    A lovely reminder of historical kindness. Thanks for sharing Eliza!

  10. Laurie Graves says:

    Wonderful! And perhaps we can keep these images in mind as we go forward.

  11. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    The photos were amazing – so many stories in each face. Thanks for sharing Eliza

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