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Enemy Alien Records

During times of war, all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of countries with which the United States is at war are deemed by the Federal Government as alien enemies (also known as enemy aliens). British subjects were enemy aliens during the War of 1812; German nationals (and their allies, including Austrian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Turkish citizens) were enemy aliens during World War I; and natives of Germany, Italy, and Japan were enemy aliens during World War II. 

Some naturalized citizens and American-born individuals were considered enemy aliens based on familial descent in each period of conflict. Additionally, American-born women who married men from impacted nations were viewed as enemy aliens during World War I.

The Federal Government instituted enemy alien control programs during wartime. This generally subjected aliens to additional regulations, increased scrutiny, and required registration and/or internment.

Program administration and enemy alien interactions with the Federal Government are documented in the records created by a variety of Federal agencies. A snapshot of immigrant policy during periods of conflict, the records also provide researchers with rich biographical information. Use the navigation options below to explore resources related to World War I and World War II era research.