National Archives at Philadelphia

Testimony of Mali Kaltman Before the Board of Special Inquiry

This document is the testimony of Mali Kaltman and Adolf August before the Board of Special Inquiry upon her arrival at the Port of Philadelphia. 

We hold a unique collection within the records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) consisting of the Decisions of the Board of Special Inquiry from 1893 to 1909. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services historian, these records were disposed of by most regional INS offices; however, the records from the Philadelphia District Office were retained and eventually transferred to the National Archives. The Board consisted of three or four male inspectors who were tasked to question aliens who had been detained for various reasons. After taking testimony from the alien and receiving answers to inquiries by the Board from other immigration authorities throughout the nation, the Board would then decide to either admit or deport an alien. The decision of the Board would then be recorded with the transcripts of the testimony and marked on the alien's passenger list. The detained aliens were held on questions of contract labor, stowaways, and bond cases. 

Most interesting are the cases of women who were considered likely to become a public charge. One such case involved Mali Kaltman, a 19 year old Jewish woman from Germany. The testimony reveals a tangled tale Ms. Kaltman related to her interrogators of how she was to be married and would be well taken care of in this country. Her supposed fiance, Adolf August,  reinforces her testimony and even agrees to marry Ms. Kaltman as soon as tomorrow. Their testimony shines a light on the experiences of female immigrants and the often unfair treatment they endured. 

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Testimony of Mali Kaltman and Adolf August before the Board of Special Inquiry, Port of Philadelphia, dated September 25, 1909. National Archives Identifier: 118727466

View and download  the Testimony of Mali Kaltman before the Board of Special Inquiry on the National Archives Catalog. You can explore more records held in the National Archives at Philadelphia through the National Archives Catalog or by visiting the National Archives at Philadelphia. This record is located in Record Group 85: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Series: Decisions of the Board of Special Inquiry.