Photo by Bogna Kociumbas
"Augustus F. Sherman. The Atlas of the Immigrant" is the first in Poland such extensive exhibition of immigrant portraits, photographed at the beginning of the 20th century on the famous Ellis Island, off the coast of New York. It has been presented in the corridor of the Transit Warehouse and in the temporary exhibitions hall at the Emigration Museum in Gdynia since 17th March. On 28th May - the last day of the exhibition - there will be held a curatorial tour with Małgorzata Taraszkiewicz-Zwolicka, art historian, animator of cultural events and a photographer.
The exhibition is accompanied by a unique catalogue containing a wide selection of Sherman's photographs, designed by Patryk Hardziej as well as the subject-related texts of Małgorzata Taraszkiewicz-Zwolicka ("Augustus F. Sherman: The Atlas of the Immigrant"), Małgorzata Szejnert ("Ellis Island Chronicler"), Adam Walaszek ("Not only Ellis Island") and Jay Dolmage ("Augustus Sherman, Eugenic Photography and the Startling Difference"). The album may be purchased in the bookstore of the Emigration Museum at a price of PLN 59.
Augustus Francis Sherman (1865-1925) - the author of the presented photographs, he was not a professional photographer, but a civil servant, an employee of Ellis Island Immigration Station Registration Office in 1892-1925. Having contact with thousands of people arriving from other continents and representing different cultures, religions and customs, he created extraordinary documentation. As a talented amateur photographer, he left more than 200 individual and group portraits of newcomers to America from its most intense migration period. Immigrants, standing in front of the lens with their traditional costumes on, allowed Sherman to create a multicultural image of the contemporaneous world.
Sherman's works form a kind of immigrant atlas of the first decades of the 20th century. The exhibition presents over one hundred portraits of refugees and migrants from Asia, Africa and Europe - including Polish territories. Nowadays, this collection is a document of great research value, among others for anthropology, ethnology, sociology and ethnography. The presentation of Sherman and the work of his life provides an opportunity to create a new perspective on migration flows in the past and today. It is also an invitation to reflect on the conditions of mass migration movements as well as the universality of the phenomenon itself. More than 12 million people went through the American Ellis Island in 1892-1954.