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Immigration in U.S. History: Primary Sources from the U.S. Government

Resources for research on U.S. immigration history.

Government Documents

Government Documents are one of the many primary sources available to you. Falling into the broad category of anything published or created by a government entity, these cover almost every subject and date from the origins of our country to the present day. If you are just trying to figure out what's out there, searching in the Congressional databases listed below is a good way to start. To get an idea of what the different departments and agencies of the U.S. government are, and what kinds of information they produce, take a look at the online U.S. Government Manual. For historical agency information I suggest checking out a Historical Guide to the U.S. Government.

The U.S. Census

Census data is collected every 10 years, and has usually included information on place of foreign birth, ancestry or both. This is the most comprehensive source for identifying the number of people from a country or region of the world living in the United States at a specific time. Data is available for the country as a whole, as well as for smaller places such as states, counties and cities.

Court Cases

Searching the Web

Federal government agencies currently post more information and publications on their websites than they publish in print. Use Search USA.gov instead of Google to cut down on non-government results. This search engine includes .gov, .mil, .us and other official government domains for federal, state and local government in the United States. Many departments and agencies also post digitized historical documents on their websites.

Congressional Documents

Immigration Statistics & More

These sources include statistics on people living in the United States, or immigrating to the United States. Older immigration statistics can be found in the annual reports of the Immigration and Naturalization Services (or before 1933, the Bureau of Immigration). Copies of most of these can be found digitized in Hathi Trust or in print in the SLU Libraries

U.S. Immigration Commission (AKA Dillingham Commission)

Known as the Dillingham Commission, the U.S. Immigration Commission was a joint House-Senate Commission that produced a series of reports on immigration and immigrants between 1907 and 1911. The forty-one volume series includes a wealth of information on immigrant communities, statistics on immigration, immigrant workers in specific industries, children of immigrants in schools and immigration legislation. The Commission was created by anti-immigration forces in Congress and that is reflected in some volumes of the report, such as the "Dictionary of Races and Peoples" and in the recommendations to restrict immigration from southern and eastern Europe.

Government Information Librarian

Rebecca Hyde's picture
Rebecca Hyde
Contact:
Pius XII Memorial Library
Room 202H
314-384-9757 (Phone # while working remotely)

Other Historical Government Documents

Many Government Documents from the last 20 years and frequently used historical documents can be found in the Libraries Catalog just like other books. We have many additional documents dating back to the 1860s that are not included in the catalog. They are located at the off campus Locust Street Library Facility and can be viewed by appointment, or sent by request to Pius Library. Contact Rebecca Hyde for more details. The resources below can help you identify documents we may have.