A typical investigation case file contains the individual's name, place and date
of birth, physical appearance, occupation, names and relationships of other family
members, and family history. Specific INS proceedings are also documented. Because
of the nature of INS investigations, case files also provide links to file numbers
for related cases, including those of other family members.
The files may contain certificates of identity and residency; correspondence; coaching
materials used by "paper sons;" INS findings, recommendations, and decisions; maps
of immigrant family residences and villages in China; original marriage certificates;
individual and family photographs; verbatim transcripts of INS interrogations and
boards of special inquiry; and witnesses' statements and affidavits.
Most early files document the investigation of people arriving from China to determine
their eligibility for admission under the Chinese
exclusion laws. By the early 20th
century the scope of individuals investigated expanded to include people arriving
from India, Japan (including picture brides), Korea, the Philippines, other Asian
countries, and Russia.
Before 1944 each INS district office developed its own filing systems. Name indexes
to case files exist for only a few of the offices. NARA volunteers and students
are gradually creating a database index to the case files of the INS San Francisco
District Office; the case files of the INS Honolulu District Office have already
been indexed up to 1944.
Search for case numbers now.
Learn More About the NARA Files. Find out what's in a case file and how to
do a search.
Start a search. Search for case numbers now.
Make an appointment. To see the records at the NARA office, it is best to
make an appointment by calling (650) 238-3501 or sending an e-mail to
Volunteer to help. NARA has thousands of case files that need to be indexe
so that they can be searched. If you would like to volunteer to assist with this
public service project, contact the archives at (650) 238-3501 or send an e-mail
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