2 Replies Latest reply on Aug 14, 2020 12:28 PM by Louis Takacs

    Seeking INS Department letters (1900-1924)

    Louis Takacs Newbie

      Hello, I am wondering if old INS Department letters (1900-1924) are available online or can be digitized.  I have a copy of one such letter from the U.S. Commissioner-General of Immigration, Frank P. Sargent, to the Acting Commissioner of Immigration at Ellis Island dated December 15, 1904 (#47768, see below) and I'd like to know if there was a related text or supplemental instructions associated with the letter.  Given what's written here, it seems there should be something else included.

      INS Department letter No. 47768, December 15, 1904; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. RG 85. Central Office. Subject Correspondence

      It reads: "In connection with instructions heretofore given concerning the furnishing of five copies of photographs and personal descriptions in the case of convicts deported from New York, it is desired that similar measures be adopted with respect to prostitutes and anarchists, in order that the other ports may be in possession of complete records of such persons."  I'm trying to locate those "instructions".


      Have these Immigration Service Department Letters been microfilmed?  Are they indexed anywhere? I'd like to look beyond this particular date and find out when the procedure stopped. Thank you!

        • Re: Seeking INS Department letters (1900-1924)
          Jason Atkinson Ranger

          Dear Mr. Takacs,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Letters Received, 1882 - 1906 and Subject and Policy Files, 1906 - 1957 in the Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (Record Group 85) that may include records on this topic.  There are several finding aids for these records, no single one of which includes all the information you might need. However, the bulk of the records and their finding aids are not available online. Therefore we suggest that you email the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at Archives1reference@nara.gov for further assistance with these records.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          One index that is available online is the U.S. Subject Index to Correspondence and Case Files of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1903-1959 available through Ancestry. Reading the cards for the "deportation" subjects as these should yield many policy file numbers 1906-1924. Accessing these on Ancestry requires a paid Ancestry subscription. Some libraries provide free access to their patrons.


          Another source that may be useful is to read the rules/regulations for deportation in the Immigration Laws and Rules that are digitized on the USCIS website.  Begin at https://eosfcweb01.eosfc-intl.net/U95007/OPAC/Search/SpecialTitles.aspx then scroll down to "Immigration laws, rules and regulations, 1893-1943.”  Once that list is open, you can sort them by year.  Each item has a second link below in its box/row, that second link will open the PDF directly.

          We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

          3 people found this helpful