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Featured Stories from the USCIS History Office and Library
Read the stories of people and programs that make up federal immigration history, learn about the most interesting items in our library collection, or get tips on researching in agency records.
Type a topic or time period into the “Search by Content” box below or browse through the articles. 
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History of Women in Federal Immigration and Naturalization Service
When Congress created the U.S. Immigration Bureau in 1891, few women had the right to vote, and many people believed a woman’s place was in the home. In 1893, only 16 women worked for the immigration service, most as cleaners and laundrywomen. Fast forward more than 130 years and approximately 55% of the agency’s workforce are women. In 2021, Ur Mendoza Jaddou was confirmed by the senate to become USCIS’ first permanent female director.
Immigration Service Matrons: Female Pioneers in the Federal Workplace
Among the agency’s earliest female employees, Immigration Service matrons performed a variety of tasks at our nation’s immigration stations.
Refugee Timeline
This timeline traces the major events and policies that affected refugee admissions under the INS and its predecessor agencies, from 1891 to 2003.
Researching Deportation Records
The USCIS Genealogy mailbox regularly receives questions about locating historical deportation or exclusion records. The question usually follows discovery of a passenger list record or List of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry showing an immigrant excluded and returned, or comes from a family story of a relative deported many years ago.
Origins of the Naturalization Civics Test
Because it is often featured in media reports, popular culture, and educational exercises, the civics test is perhaps the most well-known part of naturalization process. For many potential citizens it is also one of the most worrisome steps to becoming a United States citizen.
INS Records for 1930s Mexican Repatriations
Mexican-American family historians and other interested researchers occasionally contact the History Office in search of “Mexican Repatriation” records for individuals who left the U.S. during the Great Depression (1929-1939).
Immigrant Name Changes
"We know from experience that records of entry of many aliens into the United States contain assumed or incorrect names and other errors." From INS Operations Instruction 500.1 I, Legality of entry where record contains erroneous name or other errors, December 24, 1952.
Ludovicus Maria Matheus Van Iersel: An Immigrant Hero of World War I and World War II
During the First World War, thousands of foreign-born citizens and immigrants joined the United States military as the nation tried to meet the massive manpower requirements of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). Of these immigrant combatants, 13 received the Medal of Honor for their wartime valor. One of these men, Ludovicus Matheus Van Iersel, volunteered to serve again in the Second World War. This is his story.
Who’s #1?
Certificate of Naturalization # 1 and the “First Naturalized U.S. Citizen” Several curious researchers have asked the USCIS History Office, “Who was the first naturalized U.S. citizen?” Unfortunately, we don’t know. But we do know who received Certificate of Naturalization #1 and we know he is not the first naturalized U.S. citizen.
Edward Bing Kan: The First Chinese-American Naturalized after Repeal of Chinese Exclusion
On December 17, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law an Act to Repeal the Chinese Exclusion Acts.
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