04 September 2010

Alien resident A-Files released for public access

According to a National Archives press release, more than 300,000 case files on US alien residents are now open to the public at the National Archives branch in Kansas City, Missouri.

While you can search for your names of interest online, you may only see the files in person or order copies. Click here to search for names in the Archival Research Catalog. Not all the hits returned are for A-Files, some are for armed forces service and other documents.

I found A-Files for TOLLIN, BANK, FINK and others of interest. The first screen after a search lists the names. Click on a name of interest and learn more about the file in general terms. Click on the "Scope & Content" tab for an A-File and learn the individual's birthdate and country of origin. For David Tollin: "This file consists of an alien case file for David Tollin. Date of birth is listed as 07/20/1898. Country is listed as Russia."

The press release indicated that these files are for those born prior to - and including - 1909.

Known as A-Files, they were transferred to the Archives from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). They are only a small portion of millions of files that will eventually be transferred and opened to public access.
“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, including my own grandfather” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “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 snapshot of American life that develops from each file can, in some cases, serve as a one-stop-shopping for researchers.”
The INS - predecessor to the USCIS - began issuing Alien Registration numbers in 1940, and began creating A-files in 1944. According to the agency, the files document the famous, the infamous, the anonymous and the well-known, and are an historical and genealogical goldmine. They hold numerous relatively modern documents in one file for a rich source of biographical information.

The files are subject to the 100-year rule, meaning they can can be transferred to the NA after 100 years from the birth date of a file's subject.

The Kansas City branch will hold all A-Files except from San Francisco, Honolulu, Reno, and Guam, which will be held at the San Francisco branch. Those files are being prepared for transfer.

Unfortunately, they are not online. They may be viewed in person by appointment at Kansas City or copies of files may be ordered for a fee. Click here to learn more about requesting A-Files.

Planning a trip to KC? The branch is open Tuesday-Saturday, 8am-4pm for research.

Read the complete press release at the first link above.

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