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Tag: immigration

Fifty Year Later: A Brief History of the Immigration Act of 1965

Today’s post comes from Rebecca Brenner, an intern in the History Office at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson Signing the Immigration Act, 10/3/1965. (National Archives Identifier 2803428)

Photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Immigration Act, 10/3/1965. (National Archives Identifier 2803428)

Fifty years ago on October 3, 1965, at the base of the Statue of Liberty, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration Act of 1965 into law.

The act was an important milestone in American immigration history. It was a significant improvement from the National Origins Act of 1924, which barred Asian immigrants, limited Latin American immigrants, and established rigid immigration quotas for European countries.

These quotas, established in an era of post–World War I isolationism and xenophobia, lasted from 1924 through 1965:

  • Armenia: 124
  • Australia: 121
  • Austria: 785
  • Belgium: 512
  • Czechoslovakia: 3,073
  • Estonia: 124
  • France: 3,954
  • Germany: 51,227
  • Great Britain and Northern Ireland: 34,007
  • Hungary: 473
  • Irish Free State: 28,567
  • Italy: 3,845
  • Latvia: 142
  • Lithuania: 344
  • Netherlands: 1,648
  • Norway: 6,453
  • Poland: 5,962
  • Russia: 2,248
  • Sweden: 9,561
  • Switzerland: 2,081
  • Yugoslavia: 671

Aliens needed to apply for spots on the quota in their country of birth, regardless of where they and their family lived. Some quota waiting lists were a dozen years long, while others were not filled.

The Immigration Act of 1965 abolished this quota system and eliminated the formally racial character of immigration to the United States.

The act aimed … [ Read all ]

An A-File helps a journalist fill the gaps in her family story

October is American Archives Month. To celebrate, we are highlighting our staff around the country and their favorite records from the holdings in the National Archives.

Today’s staff member is Elizabeth Burnes, an archivist at the National Archives at Kansas City. Her favorite record is the Alien File of Miosche Slodovnik. Here’s Elizabeth’s story:

Researchers sometimes have the ”more is more” mindset as they track down documentation on their ancestors, but there are occasions where a single document can provide amazing insights. The Alien File (A-File) of Moische Slodovnik (A6316522) is a prime example.

A6316522 Page 1 - Application for Immigration Visa for Moische Slodovnik (A6316522), born 5/10/1898 in Poland.  [National Archives Identifier: 5349293]

A6316522 Page 1 – Application for Immigration Visa for Moische Slodovnik (A6316522), born 5/10/1898 in Poland. [National Archives Identifier: 5349293]

Moische’s great-niece, French journalist Annie Anas, had been researching her family history for about 15 years before she learned of his A-File. Growing up, Annie had learned that her grandparents died in the Auschwitz concentration camp and believed that the whole extended family met a similar fate. In 1973, Annie’s family by chance learned that Moische and two of his four children had successfully escaped the ghetto in Radun, Poland, after hearing that the Nazis planned to liquidate the ghetto on May 10, 1942.

Annie was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet Moische’s children, and during the visit she learned that Moische had traveled into the United States following … [ Read all ]

Records of Rights Vote: The Immigration Act

Cast your vote for the Immigration Act to be displayed first in the new “Records of Rights” gallery. Polls close on November 15!

On November 13, 1954, Ellis Island closed. More than 20 million immigrants had been processed through the island station since its opening in 1892.

But immigration was still limited. From 1924 until 1965, a person’s place of birth often determined his or her ability to immigrate legally into the United States. Immigration laws favored people from northern and western Europe over those from southern and eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Numerical limits, often called quotas, were assigned to each country. For example, a 1924 law allowed about 4,000 Italians to enter the United States annually while about 66,000 could emigrate from Great Britain. Asian immigrants, who entered the United States through Angel Island, were already largely banned from U.S immigration by other laws passed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

When President Johnson signed the 1965 amendments to the Immigration Reform Act of 1952, that system of country-based immigration quotas was ended.

“This system violated the basic principle of American democracy–the principle that values and rewards each man on the basis of his merit as a man,” said the President at the ceremony on Liberty Island.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Immigration Act, 10/03/1965

President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Immigration Act, 10/03/1965 (National Archives Identifier 2803428)

[ Read all ]

The people are voting. And the winner is . . . up to you!

Today’s blog post comes from Bruce Bustard, curator at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Page Header_VOTE

“Exercise your right to vote! This time, help shape the new exhibition space at the National Archives.” David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States

The National Archives invites you to choose an original document for our new exhibition.

America’s founding documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—are icons of liberty. But the ideals enshrined in those documents did not initially apply to all Americans. They were, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”

“Records of Rights,” a permanent exhibition in the new David M. Rubenstein Gallery at the National Archives in Washington, DC, allows visitors to explore how generations of Americans sought to fulfill this promise of freedom. “Records of Rights” showcases original and facsimile National Archives documents to illustrate how Americans throughout our history have debated and discussed issues such as citizenship, free speech, voting rights, and equal opportunity.

Now everyone can join this debate and help the curators select the first original landmark document to be featured for the November 8 opening. Make your mark at the “Records of Rights Vote,” an online poll where you can help choose the opening document to be displayed.

The documents under consideration are:

  • The
[ Read all ]

Archives Spotlight: San Francisco

The National Archives is on the West Coast, too!

The National Archives at San Francisco (located in San Bruno, California) contains over 55,000 cubic feet of Federal records from the 1850s through the 1980s. The records come from northern and central California, Nevada (except Clark County), Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The Trust Territory was administered by the United States from 1947 to 1994 and comprised what are now the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau.

The Leo J. Ryan Federal Building in San Bruno, California, is 12 miles south of San Francisco and holds the regional archives and research facility, a Federal Records Center, and a records management center.

Those interested in the history of Alcatraz and its inmates should know that the National Archives at San Francisco holds case files, identification photographs, and warden’s notebook pages for most listed inmates from 1934 to 1963. Before 1934, Alcatraz housed a military, rather than a Federal, prison. The National Archives only holds the Federal prison records. The inmates are listed online both alphabetically and numerically.

Warden’s notebook page with a mug shot of Robert Stroud, “The Bird Man of Alcatraz,” so called because he enjoyed rearing birds at Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas before he was transferred to Alcatraz. ARC Identifier

[ Read all ]