- The Faces of Immigration -

Americans are famous for our get-up-and-go, it is because we all have ancestors who got up and came. Whether sailing into the Chesapeake Bay in the early 17th century, waiting in line at Ellis Island in the early 20th, or crossing the South Texas border in the early 21st, immigrants to the U.S. have had to bid farewell to the familiar and enter a strange land with strange customs and, often, a strange language. That took—and still takes—courage and tolerance for risk, traits that are very much part of the American gene pool.Sometimes the risk was to one’s life. About 25% of immigrants to Virginia in the 1620s died within a year. In the late 19th century, about 1 in 7 didn’t survive the trans-Atlantic voyage.

It has been estimated that close to 40 percent of current U.S. citizens can trace at least one ancestor to Ellis island. A massive wave of immigrants traveled from Ireland, where a potato blight had contributed to widespread famine in the mid-19th century. Foreigners from southern and eastern Europe, including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Greece, left their homelands to escape political and economic oppression. People of Jewish descent fled Ellis Island & the Face of Immigration 2 antisemitism in czarist Russia, while poverty drove many Italians to seek better lives in America. Non-Europeans from Syria, Turkey and Armenia were also entering the United States in high numbers, seeking economic opportunity.

Augustus Sherman, an Ellis Island Chief Registry Clerk and amateur photographer, captured his unique view on the immigration influx by bringing his camera to work. Sherman's photos showcase the wide array of cultures represented in the people who passed through the station's doors from 1905 to 1914. Jimmy Carter said it best: “We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”

So, gather up you art supplies and let’s sketch, draw & paint our ancestors who believed a better life was possible, yearned for peace, hoped for freedom, and dreamed what seemed like the impossible. And, had the the courage to risk it all for a better life.

Background-The Port of New York

PHOTOS-Faces and Places of Immigrants
Ellis Island Museum
Historic Immigration Photos
Getty Images-Ellis Island
44 Poignant Photos Of Ellis Island 
Portraits of Ellis Island Immigrants
Time Machine Pictures-Eliis island
Humanize Immigrants
Melting Pot- Immigrant Photos
Istock Photos- Ellis Island
Immigrant Ships

*Jacques Zucker the Late Modern American Romantic Painter
(Dina's uncle who arrived in America through Ellis Island  2:50 on video)

Joseph Bruchac III

Beyond the red brick of Ellis Island
where the two Slovak children
who became my grandparents
waited the long days of quarantine,
after leaving the sickness,
the old Empires of Europe,
a Circle Line 3 ship slips easily
on its way to the island
of the tall women, green
as dreams of forests and meadows
waiting for those who'd worked
a thousand years
yet never owned their own.
Like millions of others,
I too come to this island,
nine decades the answer
of dreams.
Yet only one part of my blood loves
that memory.
Another voice speaks
of native lands
within this nation.
Lands invaded
when the earth became owned.
Lands of those who followed
the changing Moon,
Knowledge of the seasons
in their veins.

All Virtual New York Urban Sketchers events are one session (10 am -12 pm EST) held on Saturdays. For participants wanting to challenge themselves sketching more of a particular locality or theme, you are welcome to do the EXTENSION SKETCH PROJECT below:

Ellis Island Extension Sketch Project:
Choose of the following prompt to sketch:
  • (a)The Great Hall
  • (b) Immigrant Children in Native Costumes
  • (c) Ships of Immigrants
  • (d) Ellis Island Now

*Please post your finished sketches
to the USK NYC Facebook Site
Be sure to add the hash tag #NUS.

Facilitators of Virtual NYC Urban Sketchers
  • Theresa Smith
  • Lynda Greeley (Mama Bear)
  • Cecilia Evasco (Maricel)
  • Dina Schlesinger
  • Michael Skelly
  • Alan Wernicke
  • Elizabeth Birkby
with the assistance of Mark Leibowitz
founder of USK NYC

web site design by Cecilia Evasco
for Virtual NYC Urban Sketchers
under the auspices of USK NYC
Scheduled for October 23 , 2021

Coming UP:  2nd Annual Halloween SPOOKtacular

About Ellis Island imageAbout Ellis Island image
  • Orangeburg, New York, United States