Arches at Glendalough 2009

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Alien Files at NARA

This past fall, I was forutnate to have a student teacher in my classroom. An extremely thoughtful and insightful person, when it came time for him to leave, he handed me a slip of paper for my end of the semester gift. I was thrilled to read what was on the paper...we were going to attend a NYG and B workshop at  the NYC branch of  NARA.

These short seminars are fun. You get a chance to meet like-minded people, hear some new ideas, and sometimes recieve a" behind the scenes" tour of the facilities. Always a genealogist's dream.

Our day was wonderful. We arrived on the site where I showed him how to look for his relatives. We quickly assembled an outline of his family that he was happy to have. We also met up with a fellow genealogist from OCGS and helped her find some information on her Irish ancestor. But the best, BEST thing of all, was learning about the Alien files.

These files were created in 1944 to follow an alien through  the immigration and inspection process. A gold mine of information, they can include photos, birth information, personal papers and other genealogy goodies.Originally from INS, these files were transferred to the National Archives and are now being indexed. Currently there is about 350,000 files of people born prior to 1909 online through the NARA site.

I came home and found not only some of my mother's family listed on it (they were French Canadian) but my husband's German grandaunt and cousins. With the information, I can order the file online and have it scanned and sent to me. All of it while sitting in my superman pajamas and fuzzy bunny slippers.

Take a look at the database. You may find something. And if not, check back because they are updating it daily.
Note: You may access it through the ARC catalog at NARA