Soon after Ellis Island closed in 1954, Burden became intrigued by the abandoned site and resolved to investigate it. After hitching a ride there on a small boat, he was promptly abandoned by the captain. Luckily, he encountered the superintendent of the island, "Mr. Jones," who gave him permission to photograph and promised him a ride back to the city. For days on end, Burden met Mr. Jones in the morning and traveled to the island to take pictures inside the numerous dilapidated structures. Burden’s story of misfortune and unexpected comradery, recounted in his book Presence, rests alongside images that trace the lives of immigrants who had earlier been documented in Lewis Hine’s photographs.
"Acquisitions of the Art Museum 1991," Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University 51, no. 1 (1992): p. 22-78.