Augustus F. Sherman
American , 1865-1925

In the early years of the 20th century, Augustus F. Sherman was a registry clerk at Ellis Island during one of the United States’ immigration booms. Granted a front-row seat to the massive influx of immigrants, the amateur photographer began taking portraits of families, groups, and individuals who were being held under investigation—more than 200 in all. His images, created using a tripod and long exposure, feature these would-be-Americans in a time of flux, nationless people photographed in the traditional costumes of their former homes. Sherman’s seminal study in types predates the cataloging efforts of August Sander and calls to mind the ethnographic portraits of Edward S. Curtis.