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Here are just a handful of the 12 million men, women, and children who arrived at Ellis Island, New York, between 1892 and 1954 to start a new life in the USA, often dressed in their finest clothes. The portraits show immigrants wearing the national dress of their country of origin, including military uniforms from Albania, bonnets from the Netherlands, and clothing of Sámi people from the Arctic regions.
The photographs were taken between 1906 and 1914 by amateur photographer Augustus Francis Sherman, the chief registry clerk at Ellis Island, then the country’s busiest immigration station. In 1907 some of the photos were published by National Geographic.
Photo colourisation specialists at Dynamichrome have put painstaking work into bringing these photos to vivid life by adding colour, using historical references to help pinpoint the exact colours, including postcards from the era, and colour photographers from a later date. The colourisation helps us imagine the vivid splendour these culturally significant clothes would have held in their day.
The photos form part of the book The Paper Time Machine, funding for which is currently being crowdsourced.
Use our slidey thing to see both the original black-and-white photo and the finished colourised image, accompanied by captions by Dynamichrome.