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Posted July 13, 2005
Augustus F. Sherman was simply doing his job when from 1904 to 1920 he photographed the individual arrivals of multiple nationalities at Ellis Island. It was his duty to document those new immigrants who were detained for further investigation before they were allowed to step onto the Great Hope that was America. But what resulted from this duty is a portfolio of portraits of world peoples that is as tender and as touching as any ever captured by professional famous photographers!According to essayist Peter Mesenholler, Sherman was interested in anthropological documentation of the different physical characteristics of these Eastern, Western and Southern European proud folk. He captured the inherent pride of origin of these people who often donned their finest native folk costumes as they entered New York harbor. Sherman was sensitive to the psyches of his 'sitters', knowing that in addition to the overwhelming urge to enter America, the Land of Dreams, each of these people brought with them the memories both sad and happy of their native lands, 'heroes' if you will who were brave enough to leave their roots and aspire to higher dreams and goals. These one hundred portraits are some of the more wrenchingly beautiful from this important time of mass immigration into America, images of the folk who would comprise the melting pot that we so cherish as our national treasure. All of this art is gained by the honest eye of a non-professional photographer who took the interest and care to pass along that rarefied moment of our country's history. And there is much to be learned from slowly perusing the faces and honest captions of these important photographs. The quality of the reproductions in sepia-toned presentation is superb as is the accompanying wise essay by Peter Mesenholler. There are few books of photography that can be more widely acclaimed than this. Very highly recommended. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.