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Climbing into the Promised Land, Ellis Island

Lewis Wickes Hine


Trained as a sociologist, Lewis Wickes Hine began a career in photography in 1905, when, as a teacher, he brought his class to Ellis Island. While encouraging his students to use cameras as part of their studies, Hines himself started to photograph and ultimately became a photojournalist. In this extraordinary image, immigrants in heavy coats and with their paperwork in hand climb a congested staircase in the process of becoming American citizens; Hine managed to juggle a huge, awkward camera while manipulating a crude device loaded with flash powder in order to compose this gripping picture of hope, confusion, and excitement. When he died, in 1940, Hine left behind a legacy of several thousand images of dazzling quality and social import, many of them portraits of workers, often children.
MEDIUM Gelatin silver print
DATES 1908
DIMENSIONS image: 13 x 10 1/2 in. (33 x 26.7 cm) sheet: 13 5/16 x 11 in. (33.8 x 27.9 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS Stamped in ink on verso with studio stamp: "Lewis Hine interpretive photography, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York"; "Photograph by Lewis Hine from the Walter and Naomi Rosenblum collection"
SIGNATURE Signed in pencil on verso: "Hine"
CREDIT LINE Gift of Walter and Naomi Rosenblum
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Lewis Wickes Hine (American, 1874–1940). Climbing into the Promised Land, Ellis Island, 1908. Gelatin silver print, image: 13 x 10 1/2 in. (33 x 26.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Walter and Naomi Rosenblum, 84.237.1 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 84.237.1_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 84.237.1_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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