The Center for Migration Studies makes an unparalleled contribution to migration-related scholarship through its archives.  Its extensive holdings include:

  • Case histories of immigrants assisted by agencies working on Ellis Island;
  • Papers of individual immigrants who became successful in the United States through the arts, business, entertainment, labor organizing, the law, politics, and service to their communities;
  • The records of immigrant advocacy groups and community institutions;
  • The voluminous records of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, Bureau of Immigration;
  • More than 5,000 photographs of the immigrant experience, including books capturing the orphaned offspring of American servicemen and Korean and Japanese women;
  • Correspondence between Catholic leaders strategizing over possible responses to anti-Catholic bigotry and nativism; and
  • The largest surviving collection of material – including photographs — related to displaced persons in transit through New York after World War II.

The bulk of CMS’s collection documents the Italian-American experience, extending chronologically from the mid-19th to the 21st century, and geographically from New England to the Pacific Northwest and from Chicago to the South.

For more information or to request access to documents, please contact

From The Archives

“[M]igration and refugee issues demand attention.  They, more than any other issue[s], stand out as a symbol of the essential worth this nation and its people place on the dignity of the individual human being.  They are a clue to our belief that all people are entitled to those ‘inalienable rights’ for which this nation was created.  Moreover, they indicate the degree of our humanitarianism, and are an effective gauge of our faithfulness to the high moral and spiritual principles of our founding fathers – to whom people, as children of God, were the most important resources of a free nation.”

– Michael G. Wenk, Rev. S.M. Tomasi, C.S., and Dr. Eleanor Rogg, “American Immigration and Its Catholic Component” (Migration and Refugee Services, USCC, and Center for Migration Studies, 1970).

“The Center for Migration Studies is an invaluable resource to scholars, policymakers and members of the public who are interested in knowing more about immigration to the United States. Its archives include some of the richest records left by immigrants and the groups that have assisted them. My own work on admission of displaced persons after World War II benefited greatly from the wealth of information and perspectives included in the archive. The materials from the Immigration Bureau of the National Catholic Welfare Council are worth a visit on their own.”

– Susan F. Martin, Donald G. Herzberg Associate Professor of International Migration and Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of International Migration in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

“Records of the CMS archive, especially the papers of the National Catholic Welfare Conference and the American Committee for Italian Migration, were indispensable for my dissertation on the history of the right to family unity in twentieth-century U.S. immigration policy.   Ranging from stories of immigrant families to discussion with policy-making elites, their papers enabled me to explore historical struggles of immigrant aid agencies to advance family reunification and to reform deportation policy, and how such struggles reshaped the concept of family.   The CMS archive is an invaluable treasure for historians.”

– Yuki Oda, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, Columbia University.