TITLE: New York - Welcome to the land of
freedom - An ocean steamer passing the Statue of Liberty:
Scene on the steerage deck / from a sketch by a staff artist.
CALL NUMBER: Illus. in AP2.L52 1881 (Case Y) [P&P]
SUMMARY: Immigrants on deck of steamer "Germanic."
MEDIUM: 1 print (2 pages) : wood engraving.
Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, 1887 July 2, pp. 324-325.
Digital ID: cph 3c13735
Source: b&w film copy neg.
Medium resolution JPEG version (47 kilobytes)
Retrieve higher resolution JPEG version (123 kilobytes)
Retrieve uncompressed archival TIFF version (12 megabytes)
TITLE: Emigrants coming to the "Land of
MEDIUM: 1 photographic print on stereo card : stereograph.
CREATED/PUBLISHED: c1902. NOTES: Copyright by William H. Rau. No. 4580.
REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg. of left half stereo) cph 3a09957
Augustus Frederick Sherman,
an Ellis Island registry clerk and a photographer, circa 1905.
Courtesy of the Statue of Liberty National Monument,
the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and the Aperture Foundation.
New York's Ellis Island
was the primary U.S.
immigration portal between 1892 and 1954.
Of the countless photographs taken as more than 12 million settlers
through America's "Golden Door,"
Augustus Frederick Sherman's portraits stand
His body of work, consisting of some 250 images,
is one of the most
affecting portfolios of that mass movement.
His subjects are rarely identified
by name, and are often wearing ethnic clothing
and posing in front of a plain
making a compelling statement about the individualism
create America's melting pot.
Herewith, a selection of Sherman's photographs
from the new book
Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905–1920
(An accompanying exhibition will debut in June at the Ellis Island
First Through Gates of Ellis Island, She
Now She’s Found.
September 14, 2006
The New York Times
By SAM ROBERTS
Annie Moore is memorialized by bronze statues
in New York Harbor and Ireland and cited in story and song as the first of 12
million immigrants to arrive at Ellis Island. Her story, as it has been
recounted for decades, is that she went west with her family to fulfill the
American dream — eventually reaching Texas, where she married a descendant of
the Irish liberator Daniel O’Connell and then died accidentally under the wheels
of a streetcar at the age of 46.
The first part of the myth seems authentic enough.
Hustled ahead of a burly German by her two younger brothers and by an Irish
longshoreman who shouted “Ladies first,” one Annie Moore from County Cork set
foot on Ellis Island ahead of the other passengers from the steamship Nevada on
Jan. 1, 1892, her 15th birthday. She was officially registered by the former
private secretary to the secretary of the treasury and was presented with a $10
gold piece by the superintendent of immigration.
“She says she will never part with it, but will always keep it as a pleasant
memento of the occasion,” The New York Times reported in describing the
ceremonies inaugurating Ellis Island.
As for what happened next, though, history appears to have embraced the wrong
“It’s a classic go-West-young-woman tale riddled with tragedy,” said Megan
Smolenyak Smolenyak, a professional genealogist. “If only it were true.”
In fact, according to Mrs. Smolenyak Smolenyak’s research, the Annie Moore of
Ellis Island fame settled on the Lower East Side, married a bakery clerk and had
11 children. She lived a poor immigrant’s life, but her descendants multiplied
and many prospered.
The story of the immigrant girl who went west, however, became so commonly
accepted that even descendants of the Annie Moore who died in Texas came to
believe it. Over the years, several have been invited to participate at
ceremonies on Ellis Island and in Ireland.
It took some genealogical detective work to find the proper Annie. After
offering a $1,000 reward on the Internet a few months ago for information about
Annie Moore, Mrs. Smolenyak Smolenyak teamed up with New York City’s
commissioner of records, Brian G. Andersson, and discovered the woman who they
have concluded is, in fact, the iconic Annie Moore.
Joined by several of her descendants, they are scheduled to announce the results
of their research tomorrow at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society
Mrs. Smolenyak Smolenyak (a genealogist’s dream: she’s a Smolenyak married to a
previously unrelated Smolenyak) became interested in Annie Moore four years ago
while researching a documentary film on immigration. Pursuing the paper trail,
she found that the Annie who died instantly when struck by a streetcar near Fort
Worth in 1923 was not an immigrant at all but was apparently born in Illinois.
Moreover, she traced that Moore family to Texas as early as 1880.
“I realized it was the wrong Annie,” she recalled.
Then, what had happened to the Ellis Island Annie?
Mrs. Smolenyak Smolenyak made little progress
for a few years, but her search was reinvigorated this year after she moved to
southern New Jersey and visited a genealogical exhibition in Philadelphia
featuring a 1910 photograph of the Texas Annie. (The photograph might also have
been a model for Jeanne Rynhart’s two bronze sculptures, one of which is at
She posted a challenge on her blog for information about the immigrant Annie
Moore. She also mentioned it to Mr. Andersson, who she knew was very interested
“With the power of the Internet and a handful of history geeks we cracked this
baby in six weeks,” she said. “Brian found this one document, and we knew we had
the right family. We had the smoking gun.”
What Mr. Andersson found was the naturalization certificate belonging to Annie’s
brother Phillip, who arrived with her on the steamship. He was also listed in
the 1930 census with a daughter, Anna. They found Anna in the Social Security
death index. That identification led to her son, who is Annie Moore’s
On her first try, Mrs. Smolenyak Smolenyak was lucky enough to find the
great-nephew listed in a directory. “As soon as I said ‘Annie Moore,’ he knew
instantly — ‘That’s us,’ ” she said. “They had been overlooked, but they had
sort of resigned themselves. I think they’re very happy to be found.”
Her $1,000 reward is to be split between Mr. Andersson, who is donating it, and
As for Edward P. Wood, a New Jersey plumbing contractor who is descended from
the Texas Annie Moore and has been feted on Ellis Island, Mrs. Smolenyak
Smolenyak said that when she told him of her findings, he said, “I’m
disappointed, but I’m not heartbroken.”
The Annie Moore who arrived in steerage and inaugurated Ellis Island initially
joined her parents, who had arrived several years earlier, apparently in a
five-story brick tenement at 32 Monroe Street in Manhattan. (One of many
problems that complicated Mrs. Smolenyak Smolenyak’s search, she said, is there
is also a 32 Monroe Street in Brooklyn.)
Records indicate that Annie Moore later moved to, among other places, a nearby
apartment on New Chambers Street — near the Newsboys’ Lodging House and the
Third Avenue El on the Bowery.
The area now includes the Alfred E. Smith Houses, a public project constructed
in the early 1950’s and named for the governor who grew up nearby, and the
Knickerbocker Village complex of rental apartments built in the 1930’s.
“She had the typical hardscrabble immigrant life,” Mrs. Smolenyak Smolenyak
said. “She sacrificed herself for future generations.”
According to her latest research, Annie’s father was a longshoreman. She married
a bakery clerk. They had at least 11 children. Five survived to adulthood and
three had children of their own. She died of heart failure in 1924 at 47. Her
brother Anthony, who arrived with Annie and Philip on the Nevada, died in his
20’s in the Bronx and was temporarily buried in potter’s field.
Annie lived and died within a few square blocks on the Lower East Side, where
some of her descendants lived until just recently. She is buried with 6 of her
11 children (five infants and one who survived to 21) alongside the famous and
forgotten in a Queens cemetery.
Her living descendants include great-grandchildren, the great-nephew and the
great-niece. One of the descendants is an investment counselor and another a
Mrs. Smolenyak Smolenyak described them as “poster children” for immigrant
America, with Irish, Jewish, Italian and Scandinavian surnames. “It’s an
all-American family,” she said. “Annie would have been proud.”
So far, this turns out to be one of the few cases in which historical
revisionism may have enhanced a legacy instead of subverting it. As one
guidebook says: “Annie Moore came to America bearing little more than her
dreams; she stayed to help build a country enriched by diversity.”
August 6, 2005
The New York Times
By KATHRYN SHATTUCK
If Peter Mesenhöller expected to find the
misery of the tired, the poor, the wretched emanating from a few photographs
displayed in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum the day he first visited in
1996, he was in for a surprise. "I immediately got stunned by the dignity, the
pride, the self-confidence," Mr. Mesenhöller, a cultural anthropologist
specializing in early still photography and immigration studies, said by phone
from his home in Cologne, Germany. "It was totally different from the usual
image we have of the huddled masses."
Mr. Mesenhöller had alighted on the photography of Augustus Frederick Sherman, a
registry clerk in Ellis Island's immigration division in the early 20th century.
In the hours when he wasn't determining the fate of some of the thousands of
immigrants disembarking daily in New York Harbor from foreign vessels, he was
coaxing the hopeful to open their trunks, don their finest attire and level
their gaze at his camera.
Some 75 photographs of these immigrants are on view at the Ellis Island museum
in "Augustus Frederick Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905-1920." Organized by
Mr. Mesenhöller and Diana Edkins, director of exhibitions and limited-edition
prints for the Aperture Foundation, a nonprofit photography organization, the
show coincides with the group's publication of a book of the same title with 40
more images. The show continues through Sept. 6 before traveling to 16 sites in
the United States and abroad.
Understanding Mr. Mesenhöller's fascination - obsession, really - requires no
great stretch of the imagination. As they hover disconcertingly between art and
artifact, Sherman's portraits are powerful in their directness yet almost
antiseptic in their disaffection.
Dressed gallantly in their native costumes, solemn families and individuals
announce themselves to their new world with no apologies. A Romanian shepherd
sits with hand on hip, his decoratively embroidered sheepskin coat opened to
reveal a lush pelt of curly wool. A Ruthenian, from Ukraine, stares out with
pale eyes, her neck encircled by loops of iridescent beads above a peasant
blouse and shearling vest. Two men from Borana, in Ethiopia, with sculptural
hair ornaments sticking straight up from their heads display their shields; the
woman between them hides her hair beneath a wrap.
Striking though they are, the portraits are only nominally personal, annotated
occasionally by simple captions but mostly left unexplained: "Eleazar Kaminetzko
- 26 - Russian Hebrew SS Hamburg June 23 - 1914. Vegetarian," Sherman wrote on
the photograph of a young man with enormous eyes and long, glossy curls. Only a
few details, like "Col. Helen R. Bastedo + Osman Lewis, 13, Belgian Stowaway,"
make up the 1921 caption for a boy with floppy hair and Sunday suit, his arm
around the waist of an unrelated woman who protectively cups his hand. And then,
with fedora, spectacles and pale smudge of mustache, there is Mary Johnson, 50,
from Canada, who, Sherman wrote, "came as 'Frank Woodhull' " on Oct. 4, 1908,
and "dressed 15 yrs in men's clothes."
Information on Sherman is nearly as scant. He was born on July 9, 1865, in Lynn,
Pa., Mr. Mesenhöller said, and was a member of the Episcopal Church; he was
hired by the executive division of the Bureau of Immigration at Ellis Island in
1892, eight years after moving to New York, and moved up through the ranks.
"We've been looking for personnel files throughout the United States with all
the official records and didn't find anything," Mr. Mesenhöller said. "Up to
now, Sherman is a question mark in a way."
Mr. Mesenhöller speculates that as a higher-level officer, Sherman had
unfettered access to the island's detention area, where immigrants were held for
a day, a week or a few months after routine questioning raised doubts about
whether they should be allowed in the country.
"The technical procedures in those days were very difficult," he said. "You had
these huge tripod cameras and the exposure took how many seconds, and you had to
get the lighting just right and have your subjects sit perfectly still. And with
an average of about 5,000 people each day coming through Ellis Island at peak
times, it must have been quite an undertaking."
In an essay in the book, Mr. Mesenhöller writes that historians view these
images as "one of the most substantial photographic records of that period of
Capturing his subjects against mostly plain backgrounds in the native finery
they would soon discard for American clothing, Sherman simultaneously documented
the richness of their heritage while labeling them specimens for anthropologic
scrutiny. "Sherman considered these people as ethnic types, being representative
of the new American species," said Mr. Mesenhöller, who called on a broad swath
of colleagues to help him identify the origins of various costumes and discern
the differences in, say, the headdresses of Protestant and Catholic women from
In addition to Sherman's Dutch, Italian, Romanian, Moroccan and Finnish
prototypes, there are also the "oddities" - the giants and dwarves, the
microcephalics, the physically deformed - he cataloged in later years.
Still, the Aperture Foundation's Ms. Edkins said, the photographer "didn't
impose his own feeling on these people. He really showed it in a very
stripped-down documentarylike way."
Such images may hold particular interest today "because immigration is so much
in our mind," she said. "You know, we shed those things, those differences.
We're all jeans and Gap and now there's a commonality."
Roy Glerum of Totowa, N.J., the son of one of those Ellis Island immigrants,
said the reality of the melting pot hit him at the exhibition's opening in June.
There he saw his father's 12-year-old eyes peering out at him from Sherman's
1907 portrait of his Dutch grandparents and their 11 children. Pinned to their
chests was the number of the ship that would take them back to the Netherlands
if they failed to pass inspection.
Mr. Glerum's grandfather, Dingenis, had sold his lobster boat to finance the
family's journey. Growing up in New Jersey, Mr. Glerum's father, François, soon
known as Frank, took odd jobs running a bakery wagon before apprenticing as a
shop boy at the Manhattan Rubber Company and working his way into an
electrician's position, from which he retired 50 years later.
"My dad talked very, very little about earlier life," Mr. Glerum, 78, said. "He
didn't want us to speak Dutch. He felt that being in America was the greatest
thing and that we never needed to learn about the rest."
His recent museum visit was his first to Ellis Island, Mr. Glerum said. "I was
really overwhelmed," he added. "Not knowing the language, giving up everything
to come over here - I just thought they must have had great courage."