Research Notes -
from Park Genealogical Books,
your specialists in genealogy and local history for Minnesota and the surrounding area

Minnesota's 1918 Alien Registration

The search for naturalization records can be frustrating. Any court, local, state or federal, could be selected, for either or both sets of papers. In addition, the information found on many of the applications may not include the facts the researcher wants, even if the papers are located.

Finding that your ancestors are not listed as naturalized citizens on the 1920 Federal Census can lead you to an alternative that might even lead you to the ancestral village and the name of the ship on which your immigrant ancestor arrived. For many, these records are even better than naturalization papers! They are the Alien Registration Records created in 1918.

These papers resulted from the fears of the population during World War I, that many immigrants had settled in Minnesota, purchased land or other property, but had not become citizens. The new Public Service Commission undertook an effort to register such persons living in the state.

In February, 1918, all aliens residing in Minnesota were required to register, whether German, Norwegian, English or other heritage. They completed a 35-question registration form giving, besides personal identifying information (name, address, and age of registrant and family members), information on date and port of entry to the U.S., draft and naturalization status, and real and personal property holdings.

Those questionnaires are on microfilm, and the Ironworld Research Center has a free, on-line index. In fact, you can also include Minnesota's naturalization index in your search at the same site, and purchase copies of the records directly from them.

If you're tracking a group who traveled together, you may want to review the microfilm yourself. It's organized first by county, then minor civil division (either township or village or city. You may find someone who traveled with your family that provides all the information you need to get the ship's passenger list! The films can be found at the Minnesota Historical Society Hubbs Microfilm Room. Some county historical societies have purchased copies for their research room. And all are available through interlibrary loan from your local library.

Try it for your Minnesota 'aliens' - you'll be glad you did!

© 2007 Park Genealogical Books, Roseville MN

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