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11 Portraits of Ellis Island Immigrants You Haven't Seen Before 11 Portraits of Ellis Island Immigrants You Haven't Seen Before

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11 Portraits of Ellis Island Immigrants You Haven't Seen Before

They're startling fragments of history.

This week, the American Museum of Natural History published a treasure trove of historical photographs from its extensive library. The Digital Special Collections contain startling fragments of history, and their website is well worth poking around more extensively.

The Lantern collection, which was originally used to illustrate public lectures at the museum, contains photographs of immigrants freshly landed on American soil. The photos, taken at Ellis Island, document immigrants from across Europe and Russia, from Turkey to the Netherlands. The dates of the photos are unknown, but are likely from sometime in the early 1900s. The hand-colorized slides are striking, especially for depicting the traditional dress from each country, and serve as a poignant reminder of Americans' diverse ancestry.

(American Museum of Natural History)

This immigration station at Ellis Island is where immigrants to the U.S. started their naturalization process.

(American Museum of Natural History)

An anonymous Italian woman looks on.

(American Museum of Natural History)

This Turkish bank guard looks stern.


(American Museum of Natural History)

A Greek priest arrived at Ellis Island in full clergy garb.

(American Museum of Natural History)

These three Scottish lads are quite jaunty, from their feathered caps to their buckled shoes.

(American Museum of Natural History)

A group of Serbian Romanies—otherwise known as gypsies.


(American Museum of Natural History)

This Romanian piper showed off for the camera ...

(American Museum of Natural History)

... While these women donned traditional Dutch bonnets.

(American Museum of Natural History)

The museum's caption for this photo is simple: "Dutch children holding cards."


(American Museum of Natural History)

This Romanian woman is wearing a traditional embroidered folk vest and headscarf.

(American Museum of Natural History)

These three Cossacks—yes, those Cossacks—clearly coordinated their outfits.

(American Museum of Natural History)

And this Ruthenian (aka Ukrainian) woman looks a bit worse for wear after a long trip across the Atlantic. Here's hoping the trip was worth it!

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