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Immigration and Naturalization: Collection Information

This guide provides an overview of historic documents concerning Immigration and Naturalization and discusses terminology and language found in the documents.

History of Immigration and Naturalization Agencies

The first immigration laws came about with the Naturalization Act of 1790 that granted citizenship to “free white peoples…of good character” but the first office for Immigration did not come about until almost 100 years later and went through various name changes and government departments from 1891 to 2002.

1891-1895: Office of the Superintendent of Immigration in Department of Treasury

1895-1903: Bureau of Immigration in the Department of Department of Treasury

In 1903, they were transferred from the Department of Treasury into the new Department of Commerce and Labor.

1903-1906: Bureau of Immigration in the Department of Commerce and Labor

The Naturalization Act of 1906, which put naturalization function with immigration and combined them. 

1906-1913: Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization in the Department of Commerce and Labor

For 20 years, between the years 1913 and 1933, the bureau was split into two different bureau’s. In 1924, the U.S Border Patrol was created within the bureau of immigration. 

1913-1933: Bureau of Immigration and in the Department of Labor 

1913-1933: Bureau of Naturalization in the Department of Labor

In 1933, they were reunited by executive order. They became known as the INS and stayed as such for almost 70 years. 

1933-1940: Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization in the Department of Labor (INS) 

In 1940, they were taken out of the Department of Labor and moved into the Department of Justice, but were still the INS.

1940-2002: Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization in the Department of Justice (INS)

Following the events of 9/11, immigration policies changed with the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and the INS was separated into 3 different agencies within the Department of Homeland Security. 

2002-Present: Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

2002-Present: Immigration and Customs Protection (ICE)

2002-Present: U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

For more information, see these resources:

Collection Description

Reorganization Plan V, effective June 14, 1940, transferred the Immigration and Naturalization Service from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice. This service has charge of all activities relating to the immigration and deportation of aliens. Pursuant to title III, Public Act 670, Seventy-sixth Congress, approved June 28, 1940, the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, with the approval of the Attorney General, directs the registration and fingerprinting of all aliens within the United States, it's Territories, and possessions. (U.S Government Manual, 1940)

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was created by act of March 3, 1891 (8 U.S.C. 1551 note). The Service carries out its mission through operational programs in adjudications and nationality, inspections, investigations, and detention and deportation, as well as the U.S. Border Patrol. These programs are divided into the following mission responsibilities: —facilitating entry of those legally admissible as visitors or immigrants to the United States; —granting benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, including providing assistance to those seeking asylum, temporary or permanent resident status, or naturalization; —preventing improper entry and the granting of benefits to those not legally entitled to them; —apprehending and removing those aliens who enter or remain illegally in the United States and/or whose stay is not in the public interest; and —enforcing sanctions against those who act or conspire to subvert the requirements for selective and controlled entry, including sanctions against employers who knowingly hire aliens not authorized to work in the United States. (U.S Government Manual, 2002)

USU’s role in collecting Documents

Utah State University is also designated as a Regional Depository Library for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) which requires the institution (library) to receive and retain, in perpetuity, at least one copy of all publications by the Government Publishing Office (GPO) [formerly the Government Printing Office] that were made accessible to the FDLP. The goal of the FDLP and, by extension, the Government Information (Gov Info) department at USU is to make government publications accessible to the public. As stewards of historic documentation, there is a responsibility of Gov Info to not only preserve the materials and provide access, but to also cultivate understanding about the documents and why they were produced. The documents are currently accessible in the circulating stacks of the Government Information collection and are available to be checked out. A limited number of documents are also available online.


Libraries and archives collect and preserve materials from a broad spectrum of individuals, communities, cultures, and time periods. Some of these materials include language and imagery that is outdated, offensive, or otherwise harmful. Such content may reflect negative or derogatory attitudes toward race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation; embrace colonialist approaches; or otherwise exhibit bias toward members of marginalized groups. 

Government Information Librarian

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Jen Kirk
Merril-Cazier Library, Lower Level, Room 012
(435) 797-8033

Guide Author

Vanessa Garcia Vazquez has undergraduate degrees in English, with an emphasis in Technical Communications and Rhetoric, and Criminal Justice from Utah State University. During her time at USU, she was a student staff member of the Government Information Collection, part of Special Collections & Archives at the Merrill-Cazier Library. 

FDLP Designation

“This library is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. Government documents. Public access to the government documents collection is guaranteed by public law. (Title 44 United States Code)”

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