Between 1905 and 1914, about one million immigrants per year arrived in the United States through Ellis Island.
Augustus Frederick Sherman, a clerk at a busy immigrant inspection station, was genuinely fascinated by the vast spectrum of cultures and ethnicities that arrived in America seeking a better future.
Although he was an untrained, amateur photographer, Sherman captured hundreds of portraits documenting people from all over the world. This compelling series of pictures offers a riveting perspective of this dynamic period in American History.
Around 100 years later, we decided to give these portraits a more interesting perspective and reimagine the faces of Ellis Island in bright, vivid colors.
However, since we have zero talent with colorizing photos, we asked our good friend Tom Marshall from PhotograFix to help us bring these subjects to life, and help us he did.
Original Photos: New York Public Library, Colorized Photos: Tom Marshall, PhotograFix
“This project was very different for me, and was an eye opener as someone who tends to colourise figures in western dress.
I’m used to figures from 1910 wearing various shades of gay, green, and brown, with the occasional muted blue or red to add a little flavor.
The bright colors of the various forms of national dress proved an interesting challenge,” explains Marshall on his site.
“It has also been interesting to look at the history of the USA, and the impact of immigration from all these different countries.
As much as I would like to, I try not to get into politics on my blog, but with a high-profile election taking place in the USA, and our own recent EU referendum in the UK, it’s hard not to draw parallels between these photos and the current climate.”
“For me, these photos hint at America’s history as a melting pot of all creeds, colors, and nationalities, and I’d like to think it’s a pretty strong argument that those set against immigration (both in the USA and the UK) need to remember that, if you go back far, enough everybody’s ancestors were immigrants somewhere,” says Marshall.