Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Katherine Hauser


Currently, the United States is experiencing renewed debates over immigration and its immigration policy, which range between arguments for increased or decreased admittances. These conversations are not new; there is an uncanny familiarity in how arguments have remained the same over the span of a hundred years. Through looking at the historical representation of immigrants at Ellis Island in the early twentieth century, perhaps we can foster further critical dialogue about how we currently understand the “foreign” and the “other” with respect to gender. While this paper focuses specifically on gender subversion within the photograph versus typical representations of gender, it is also important to understand issues of race and disability at Ellis Island, as it was a site for the medical gaze to determine which bodies were fit to enter the United States. Within portraits of Ellis Island immigrants, we see a similar fascination with the “other” that mirrors the visual dissemination process of the institution.