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Ellis Island

  • Accession Number:
  • Artist:
    Hine, Lewis
  • Date:
    1905; printed later (Photo League print)
  • Medium:
    Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions:
    image: 6 3/4 in x 4 13/16 in; mat: 14 in x 11 in; paper: 7 in x 5 in
  • Credit Line:
    Museum purchase


About the Photographer

Hine, Lewis

American, 1874-1940

Posthumously renowned for his groundbreaking social documentary work, Lewis Hine spent the majority of his life photographing America's social issues: immigration, child labor, and the plight of the working man. His photographs of immigrants at Ellis Island treated the new, often degraded, citizens with grace, photographing his subjects in more formal poses instead of the "huddled masses" that appeared in the media. In the words of Lou Stettner, "Hine portrayed [the immigrants] for us and for history as solemn and dignified carriers of a sophisticated, rich and varied cultures from the Old World."

Born in 1874, Lewis Hine was raised in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and briefly studied at the University of Chicago in 1900, where he took his first photo class. His career focused on three topics: immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, child labor, and his “Work Portraits” series, which depicted the human workforce during the modernization of industry.
His work was largely unrecognized during his lifetime, until Berenice Abbott and Elizabeth McCausland organized a retrospective of his work in 1939 shortly before his death, launching him into public view.