Please join us on Saturday, February 9 as we explore our immigrant ancestors.  Genealogist Rich Venezia will help you navigate your journey through immigration research.  He will be presenting four sessions throughout the day.  Registration is suggested for each session.


Session 4:  2:30 pm

Unsung Immigration Records of NARA: Contextualizing Recent Immigrant Ancestors

The National Archives holds various records about that can provide a treasure trove of information on twentieth-century immigrant and alien ancestors that made America their home. Learn about INS Case and Correspondence Files, Bureau of Naturalization Correspondence Files, Alien Personal History and Statement forms, and A-Files.
Audience Level: Intermediate/Advanced
This lecture explores some of the lesser-known immigration-related records held by various branches of the National Archives (NARA). Utilizing these records can greatly contextualize a recent immigrant ancestor’s experience, as these records are often letters by or about them, copies of testimony they gave, or applications filled out in their own hand.

Among the records that will be discussed: 

  • INS Case and Correspondence Files
    • Held at NARA in Washington, D.C.
    • Relates to cases handled and correspondence received by INS 1906 – 1957
    • Includes immigrant deportations, Board of Special Inquiry appeals, applications for removal to native country, and other correspondence
  • Bureau of Naturalization Correspondence Files
    • Held at NARA in Washington, D.C.
    • Relates to correspondence received by the Bureau from 1906 – 1946
    • Includes inquiries regarding citizenship status, requests for copies of passenger lists, correspondence related to fraudulent naturalizations, and other correspondence
  • Alien Personal History Statements
    • Held mainly at NARA St. Louis, but others at regional facilities
    • Relate to men born abroad between 1897 and 1927, resident in the US between 1940 and 1946, and un-naturalized
  • A-Files
    • Held at NARA Kansas City and NARA San Bruno
    • Relate to immigrants who arrived after April 1944, reopened cases of immigrants who registered as aliens in 1940, and those whose cases underwent immigration and/or law enforcement inquiries


Rich Venezia is a New Jersey native who now calls Pittsburgh home, with roots in Italy, Ireland, England, Wales, and Prussia. He founded Rich Roots Genealogy in 2013. He was a member of the research team of Genealogy Roadshow (PBS) for two seasons, and also consulted on Follow Your Past (Travel Channel). Rich specializes in 20th-century immigrant ancestry. His main areas of focus include Italian, Irish, Pittsburgh and New Jersey/New York City research. He also assists clients with dual citizenship applications for Ireland and Italy. He holds a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University, and is the Past-President of North Hills Genealogists. He is a proud Italian dual citizen. He spoke about "How to Grow Empathy From Uncovering Your Roots" at TEDx Pittsburgh 2017.


This event is part of our Becoming American series on immigration. Becoming American is a project of City Lore in collaboration with the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and the International Coalition of the Sites of Conscience.  The project has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.