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Photo of Immigrants on Boat Looking at the Statue of Liberty, c. 1895
Engraving of Immigrants on Boat Looking at the Statue of Liberty, c. 1895

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Historical Background

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Level: Middle School and above

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More of this TYPE: Photographs

More of this TIME PERIOD: 1850-1899

More on these TOPICS: Immigration


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In both of these pictures, new arrivals to the United States are seen looking at the Statue of Liberty. Located in the New York harbor, this icon of welcome loomed large for immigrants, both literally and figuratively. The Statue represented freedom, the promise of opportunity, and a sense of optimism. Yet upon their arrival, many newcomers encountered conflicting American attitudes toward immigrants. Manufacturers wanted them as a cheap source of labor, but other contemporaries criticized them for their differences and the degradation that too often accompanied their poverty and precarious existence.

Although these two images show similar scenes, they are actually quite different. The photograph is a candid shot, but the engraver added the hopeful faces and outstretched arms of the new arrivals to America’s shores.

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1. How are these two pictures similar? How do they differ?

2. What does the carefully constructed drawing convey that the candid shot does not? What does the photograph convey that the drawing does not?

3. What do both images indicate about the arriving immigrants?

4. Which image do you think is a more useful source for the study of history? Why?

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How to Cite This Page
Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Photographs - Photograph and Engraving of Immigrants." <>.