Between the years of 1892 and 1954, more than 12 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island in New York harbor. In 1907, during Ellis Island’s peak, approximately 5,000 people entered the US.
Ellis Island gave people the opportunity to attain the American dream.
Since the chief registry clerk at Ellis Island, Augustus Francis Sherman, happened to also be an amateur photographer, he captured images of those who were temporarily detained while attempting to gain entry into the mainland. A handful of those photographs can be seen in the slideshow above.
Today, tens of millions of Americans — about a third of our country’s population — are able to trace their family tree back to someone who passed through the gates.