Chinese Exclusion Act Files and Records Overview – USCIS webinar, Thursday, Nov. 30, at 1 p.m. Eastern

Chinese Exclusion Act Files and Records Overview

Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, 1 p.m. Eastern

Join Marian Smith for an overview of U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Chinese Exclusion Act records and where those records can be found today.  The presentation will use a timeline to discuss a variety of Chinese Exclusion Act records inherited or created by INS.  These records are today found at regional archives, the National Archives in Washington, DC, and occasionally in files held by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  (USCIS).  The webinar will address the agency’s historical practice of moving some files to other file series as well as USCIS resources available to those doing Chinese Exclusion-era immigrant research.

*This webinar will not be recorded, so be sure to join it live.*

 How to Attend

1.  Visit the USCIS History and Genealogy web page.

2.  Click “Worth Repeating Webinar: Thursday, November 30.”

3.  Click “Attend Session” just before the webinar start time at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Chinese Laws and Rules

Researchers using historical Chinese Exclusion records often find themselves trying to navigate through a maze of legal citations and references to the multitude of laws, rules, and regulations that governed the admission and exclusion of Chinese immigrants. For example, what was a “Section 6 Certificate?” Or, what did it mean if someone was admitted as part of the “exempt class under Rule 9?”

Fortunately, the USCIS History Office and Library’s online catalog provides full-text access to tools that can help researchers interpret Chinese Exclusion files. Two of the most important are the Chinese Laws and Rules (1899–1936) and the Chinese General Orders (1924–1945).

The Chinese laws and rules, which the Immigration Service distributed to officers responsible for enforcing Chinese Exclusion law, initially included a list of laws governing the admission of Chinese and a compilation of major court decisions interpreting those laws. As Congress amended the laws or added new ones, the Immigration Service issued new volumes of the publication. In 1908, the Immigration Service added a list of regulations (rules) to the publication, which detailed how the agency carried out the law. The rules described the inspections process, various certificates and forms required under the law, and several other aspects of Chinese Exclusion enforcement. Today, the laws and rules help us interpret legal citations found in Chinese Exclusion files and provide a fuller picture of how Chinese Exclusion law was carried out.

In 1924, the Immigration Service supplemented the Chinese laws and rules with the Chinese general orders. The general orders announced changes to the Chinese rules and were later added to the next printed addition of the laws and rules. Today they are helpful for pinpointing changes in the rules.

To find both the Chinese laws and rules and the Chinese general orders in the USCIS History Office and Library’s online catalog, simply click the links above or select “Simple Search” from the “Search” drop-down menu and type “Chinese rules.” They will come up as the first two search results. 

Advertisements

National Archives 2017 Virtual Genealogy Fair Online on Oct. 25, 2017

The National Archives and Records Administration will have its 2017 Virtual Genealogy Fair online on Oct. 25, 2017. If you miss any part of it, don’t worry, it will be posted online at a later date.

If you missed the 2013 to 2016 Virtual Genealogy Fairs, you’re still in luck – all the videos, PowerPoints, and other handouts are still online. Just follow these links:

“Disloyalty,” Naturalization, and World War I , USCIS webinar today, June 29, 2017, 1 p.m.

From the USCIS History Office:

I&N History Webinar: “Disloyalty,” Naturalization, and World War I

The First World War inspired patriotism in both native-born and immigrant Americans. At the same time, some immigrant groups fell under suspicion of being disloyal to the U.S. war effort. So, in the years surrounding the war, the Bureau of Naturalization investigated the loyalty of naturalizing immigrants to ensure that only fully qualified immigrants became citizens.

As part of the USCIS History Office’s ongoing commemoration of the 100th anniversary of World War I, this webinar examines the Bureau of Naturalization’s loyalty investigations during the war and the Bureau’s efforts to revoke citizenship from naturalized citizens it deemed disloyal. In the webinar, you will learn about the Bureau’s wartime activities through primary-source examples of loyalty investigation files and cancelled certificate of naturalization files.

To join the webinar, find the June 29 webinar “Disloyalty,” Naturalization, and World War I and click “Attend Session” just before it starts at 1 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, June 29.

Please note: This webinar will not be recorded, so be sure to join it live.

The Record isn’t Always Where You Expect to Find it.

April 14, 2017, marked the 105th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Its passenger list went down with the ship.

However, some of its passengers were rescued by the Carpathia, and naturally, one would expect to find those persons listed on a passenger list. For many years, the Carpathia (Titanic) list was thought to be lost. In the 1990s, however, the list was discovered.

This list was erroneously filed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service with June 18, 1912, arrivals, and can be found in NARA microfilm publication T715, Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957, Roll 1883, Vol. 4183, which is online on various genealogy websites. A direct link to the individual Carpathia-Titanic passenger list pages is online at the National Archives website.

Marian L. Smith wrote an article on this rediscovery: “The RMS Titanic Passenger Manifest: Record of Survivors – and Revival of a Record,” Voyage (Journal of the Titanic International Society, Inc.), Volume 29 (1999), pp. 4-9.

The record you seek may not exist … but sometimes it’s hiding in plain sight. It pays to be creative and persistent.

Fact, Fiction, and Immigration Passenger Lists, USCIS Webinar, Tues., March 21, 1 p.m. Eastern

Fact, Fiction, and Immigration Passenger Lists

Tuesday, March 21, 1:00 PM Eastern

If you’re interested in passenger lists, particularly 20th century ones, you won’t want to miss the next USCIS webinar by Marian Smith. Understanding the who, what, where, and why of records is always critical.

In this webinar, Marian Smith will revive and update a 2006 presentation about understanding passenger list arrival records (originally titled “Making Sense of Immigration Passenger Lists”).  Topics include the availability of such records (what survived, how complete), how they were created (by whom, how, and where), and how assumptions we make can help or hinder research success. Set a reminder on this webinar.

This webinar will not be recorded, so be sure to join us live.  

Attend Session

For more information and how to submit questions for the next “Your Questions” webinar, click this link: “Worth Repeating” Webinar.

The Forgotten Irish: Irish Emigrant Experiences in America – Thursday, March 16, 2017, 7 p.m.

On the eve of the Civil War, 1.6 million Irish-born people were living in the United States, most in the major industrialized cities of the North. For The Forgotten Irish, Damian Shiels researched Civil War pension records to craft the stories of 35 Irish families whose lives portray the nature of the Irish emigrant experience. This will be the book’s U.S. launch.

Michael Hussey, a National Archives archivist and historian, and David T. Gleeson, Professor of American History at Northumbria University and author of The Green and the Gray: The Irish in the Confederate States of America, will co-moderate the discussion and audience Q&A. A book signing will follow the program.

You can view it live from the comfort of your home on YouTube or see it in person by reserving a seat in the William G. McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC.

These authors’ research shows the truly international value and importance of records in the U.S. National Archives. You can subscribe to the National Archives Event Newsletter to receive timely information about future programs.

Damian Shiels blogs at Irish in the American Civil War and David T. Gleeson blogs at The Atlantic Irish.

Minor’s Naturalization

While we normally think of naturalization as a two step process whereby the alien first declares his intent to become a citizen and then petitions for naturalization, there were exceptions to that procedure.

For example, from 1824 to 1906, aliens who came to the U.S. while under age 18 could effectively declare their intent to become a citizen at the same time they filed their petition for naturalization once they had reached age 21 or more and had lived in the U.S. for five years (three of which as a minor). Let the law speak for itself:

image002.jpgSo, to summarize: the alien still had to meet the five year requirement for residency, and three years of that had to be while he was a minor.

Many courts used specific forms for these cases that combined declaration of intent language and petition language in one document, and they made sure to include the word “minor.”  Some may say the applicant “arrived as a minor,” while others will have the words “Minor Naturalization” emblazoned across the title or as a watermark.

For more on naturalization, see Naturalization Records and Women and Naturalization, Part I and Part II.