Amazing images of new immigrants as they arrive in America at the turn of the century are now available for all to see and use, as the New York Public Library has released out-of-copyright images into its online digital collection.
The library announced this week it would release 180,000 digitized images free for public use, made possible by the NYPL Labs, a group that is dedicated to disseminating the library’s resources online.
Among the images are photographs taken of immigrants, some more than a century ago, as they pass through Ellis Island. Located in the Upper New York Bay, Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants between 1892 and 1954. It is estimated that half of all Americans can trace their lineage back to at least one person who came through Ellis Island. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in America’s National Park Service.
The photographs were taken by Lewis W. Hine (1974-1940), a “pioneering social photographer”, according to the library.
Hine moved in New York at the turn of the century to teach at the Ethical Culture School and soon began to take photographs at the immigration station of Ellis Island.
Hine photographed the new immigrants between 1904 and 1909 and later took an interest in child welfare and the conditions of the working class. He took pictures for the National Child Labor Committee and the American Red Cross in Europe, according to the library.
He returned to Ellis Island years later, in 1926, to once again photograph new immigrants and documents reform at the immigration station.
According to the Tech Times, the photographs had previously been available from the library, but users were required to make a request for the image and pay a processing fee in order to access the images.