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Immigration Reference Reports

Immigration records at the National Archives document the arrival of noncitizens and the return of U.S. citizens to the United States from foreign ports between 1820 and the mid-twentieth century. Before then, individual ports compiled their own records, which are not available at the National Archives. The U.S. Customs Service maintained inbound passenger and crew lists from 1820 to 1890. In 1891, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) controlled entry into the United States. Immigration officials began tracking border crossings from Canada in 1895 and from Mexico around 1903.

Immigration Reference Reports describe research strategies for some of the more frequent topics and records relating to immigration, including the arrival of specific ethnic groups such as the Irish and Chinese, New York passenger arrivals, and accessioned records for later twentieth-century immigration.

Click on the title to view a PDF version of the reference report. For additional topics, please see Immigrant Records at the National Archives.

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