Shirley C. Burden

American, 1909–1989

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Shirley C. Burden

American, 1909–1989

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Biography

Shirley Burden is best known for his photographic essay of Ellis Island, shot in the 1950s—not long after it retired from serving as immigrants’ gateway to America. The black-and-white prints depict a nearly deserted space that nonetheless still bears traces of the millions of individuals who passed through. Having worked as a filmmaker in the late 1920s, Burden went on to produce training films for the American military during World War II before embarking on his career as a documentary photographer. Other of his prominent series explored Catholic culture, racial intolerance, and architectural design.

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Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Biography

Shirley Burden is best known for his photographic essay of Ellis Island, shot in the 1950s—not long after it retired from serving as immigrants’ gateway to America. The black-and-white prints depict a nearly deserted space that nonetheless still bears traces of the millions of individuals who passed through. Having worked as a filmmaker in the late 1920s, Burden went on to produce training films for the American military during World War II before embarking on his career as a documentary photographer. Other of his prominent series explored Catholic culture, racial intolerance, and architectural design.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Group
Group show at a major institution
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Institution
Collected by a major institution
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)