This time last month I was heading for the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference (held April 1-2 in Columbus, OH). I originally planned to go for a quick visit with my daughter, but decided to do it anyway after her death March 1 to consult with attornies and her friends.
My genealogical research problem I hoped to resolve was the mystery of the marriage of my great grandparents in Huron County, Ohiio in 1857. How did they get there? Who were their friends? Did they own property? And most of all how did they get there and why did they move on to Missouri a year later? Sadly, I got no answers to THESE questions, but learned a lot from the excellent presenters at the Conference. My main hope was to meet someone from Huron County ---and I did, the chapter newsletter editor sat next to me in a session I had Not originally planned to attend. So was it luck or Fate?
One speaker I found particularly excellent was Julie Miller from Broomfield, Colorado. Julie is a professional researcher, was a NGS Conference Chair and is a member of the NGS board of directors. I attended three of her sessions and found them all to be well presented, full of useful information and interesting to boot. Her sessions that I attended were: Alien Registration Records; Chasing the Link; Passenger Arrival Lists and Becoming an American: Naturalization Records:, I am going to discuss in more detail the session on Alien Registration Records. This was well attended as were all her presentations.
The U.S. has legislated requirements for alien registration throughout its history, especially in wartime. The first was 18 June 1798 in which all aliens living in US and those arriving after that time had to register. Five additional acts were passed including one in April 1802, requiring all aliens to register with a court upon arrival. In 1812, all British ali had to report to a US Marshal. And in 1892, the Geary Act required the Chinese to register. A November 1917 Presidential Proclamation was for all German Aliens register. The Alien Registration Act (Smith Act) passed 28 June 1940 required all aliens in the US, 14 years or older, had to register. So you can see it has been a fairly important part of our nation’s documentation. These records are often hidden within larger record groups like nationalization, or passenger lists creating a challenge for genealogists and a rich one if they can be found for your “person”.
Julie talked about each of these periods and did tell us that Congress ordered the destruction of the World War I alien registrations, but local sources like state/or county historical organizations may still have them. As an example of what could happen should you find one for a person o interest. The WWI registrations may have 4 pages which the alien filled out in person of information which might include, name, race, birthplace, age, nationality, occupation, their residence, and date and place of arrival.
This is just one more record that might be helpful in filling out your picture of an ancestor and could offer some little known facts. The WWII (1940-44) aliens had a 2- page registration form (an AR-2)which they could fill out at a Post Office. These are maintained by USCIS, now housed at NARA – Kansas City. Julie Miller has an article with further information on this topic which appeared in April-June 1909 issue of NGS Magazine, p 19-23. This was a rich reward for my Ohio journey to attend and enjoy this conference and make some new connections.