Immigrants and refugees are on my mind, so I sought out images from Ellis Island taken by the great American photographer Lewis Hine. These particular photos come from the New York Public Library. The old women traveled to the US from different places. The one on left the arrived from newly formed Czechoslovakia; the one on the right came from Italy. The woman in the middle is identified only as “Jewish.” The picture was originally taken in 1905, so it is safe to assume that she was part of the great migration from the Russian empire in the wake of pogroms.
When I was growing up, it was common to call a kerchief that tied under the chin a “babushka.” As it happens, babushka means “grandmother” in Russian. How fitting that these three grandmothers are all wearing the same headgear. I hope they found happy homes.