The incredible life of Mata Hari, the beautiful World War I-era dancer and spy, is going to be the subject of an upcoming series on Old Spirituals.

In her day, Mata Hari inspired early film stars. Since then, countless artists, actresses, and models have tried to recreate the mystique that was effortless for the Dutch dancer. She was known for many things, including her elaborate costumes and headdresses.

Countless intriguing figures peopled the 20th century, but Mata Hari still fascinates us over 100 years after her death. These photographs may give you some idea of why!




Continue reading

Augustus Sherman was 27 years old in 1892, when he was hired by the Bureau of Immigration as a clerk at Ellis Island. The small island in the New York Harbor was the first American destination of millions of immigrants from all over the world, who had left their old lives behind to start over in the new world.

Sherman liked to photograph the immigrants, particularly in traditional costumes from their native countries. He had no training but the images he captured are among the most interesting records that survive from that time. During his tenure there, which lasted until his death in 1925, he took over 200 photographs.

Nothing more is known of Sherman. These beautiful pictures are his legacy.

Lapland children


A “prosperous family” of 14


Finnish immigrants


Bavarian man


Romanian woman


Ruthenians, Ellis Island, July 12, 1913.


1908 photograph of Johanna Dykhoff with her 11 children. Eleven children!


1905 photo of a Scottish family en route to Alabama


Cossack Immigrants


Dutch children (look at their shoes!)


Family of 15


Italian woman


Guadeloupean woman


German family


Dutch women


Dutch women


Cossack immigrant




This 1914 photograph includes an inscription “Hamberg” and specifies the subject is vegetarian.


Scottish Children


Two young ladies from the Netherlands


Ruthenian Woman


Slovakian woman with her children


Norwegian woman


“Male immigrant”


Girl from the Kochersberg region of Alsace


Protestant Dutch Woman


An 11-month-old 55 lb Russian baby