We hear so often that America is "a nation of immigrants" or a "cultural melting pot" that the phrase has become kind of a tired cliche. But actually seeing that history is a different story. The fascinating photographs — of people in their native dress passing through Ellis Island in the early 20th century — hint at just how incredible and unique America's history is as a nation of immigrants.
These photos were taken by Augustus Sherman, an amateur photographer who worked as the chief registry clerk on Ellis Island from 1892 until 1925. Sherman snapped these photographs of people passing through customs in their native dress. They were published in National Geographic in 1907 and once hung on the walls in the headquarters of the federal Immigration Service in Manhattan, according to the Public Domain Review. They are now housed by the New York Public Library.
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