Given the enormous amount of paperwork that needed to be done at Ellis Island, it comes as no surprise that dozens and dozens of clerks and stenographers were employed there. The clerks - both male and female - kept a running tabulation of the number of immigrants flowing to the island for inspection each day, the disposal of their cases and their subsequent departures. Clerks stored away the steamship passenger manifests, completed detention and deportation cards, wrote reports and dossiers, and filed away and retrieved warrant case records. Meanwhile, the island's stenographers - each of them an expert in writing shorthand script and using the typewriter - were essential participants during immigration hearings of the various boards of special inquiry.
National Park Service, Statue of Liberty NM
Known for the striking photographs he took of detained immigrants, the talented amateur photographer Augustus Sherman also occupied the highly responsible post of chief clerk of Ellis Island. A native of northeastern Pennsylvania, Augustus joined his elder brother in New York City in 1889. By the 1890s, the brothers were both working as clerks at Ellis Island. After his brother quit to become a lawyer, Augustus climbed up the clerical ranks at the station, eventually becoming chief clerk.
Wilhelm Schleich, a Bavarian Miner, photographed outside of the Main Immigration Building c. 1920.
An Asian woman photographed outside the Main Immigration Building c. 1920
Did You Know?
During the island's 62 years of operation, over 12 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island, including quite a few who went on to become famous such as: Frank Capra, Bela Lugosi, Baron Von Trapp, Irving Berlin, Max Factor, Claudette Colbert, Rudolph Valentino, Igor Sikorsky and Bob Hope.