32 Million immigrants will see their record status changed to permanent in Wednesday Signing Ceremony

Signing Ceremony Permits 32 Million Alien Files to Become Permanent Records at the National Archives – A Genealogy Goldmine.

Adrienne Thomas, Acting Archivist of the United States and Gregory Smith, Associate Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will hold a joint signing ceremony between the National Archives and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the National Archives 11:30 am, Wednesday, June 3, 2009.

Their actions will designate as permanent the immigration files created on the millions of aliens residing in the United States in 1944, as well as those arriving since then. These Alien Case Files (commonly referred to as A-Files) document the famous, the infamous, the anonymous and the well-known, and are an historical and genealogical goldmine.

The new agreement authorizes the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services/Department of Homeland Security to send A-files to the National Archives when 100 years have passed since the birthdate of the subject of a file. The National Archives expects to receive the first transfer of A-files later this year, and will store the files at National Archives facilities in San Francisco and Kansas City. Researchers will be able to access the files at these two sites, or request copies of files. An index will be available to support research use.

The A-files are a key to unlocking the fascinating stories of millions of people who traveled to the United States in search of opportunity. They include information such as photographs, personal correspondence, birth certificates, health records, interview transcripts, visas, applications and other information on all non-naturalized alien residents, both legal and illegal. The files are of particular interest to the Asian American community because many A-files supplement information in Chinese Exclusion Act era case files (1882-1943) that are already housed at the National Archives.

The signing ceremony is an important first step in the preservation of the 32 million records that were originally scheduled for disposal. At the ceremony, the National Archives will have samples of the alien registration form that was used to create the A-files. The form requests detailed information revealing valuable material for researchers and family historians, such as the alien’s current name, the name that he or she used when entering the country, marital status, occupation, name and address of employer, height, weight, and date and place of birth.
The signing will take place at 11:30 am in Room 105, National Archives Building; 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408.

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Written by Thomas Jay Kemp

Thomas Jay Kemp

Thomas Jay Kemp is the Director of Genealogy Products at GenealogyBank. Tom Kemp is an internationally known librarian and archivist – he is the author of over 35 genealogy books and hundreds of articles about genealogy and family history.

He previously served as the Chair of the National Council of Library & Information Associations (Washington, DC) and as Library Director of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

An active genealogist, he has been working on his own family history for 47 years. With the rapidly growing online archives at GenealogyBank – it is a great day for genealogy!

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