About the Archive
Credit: Center for Migration Studies of New York

About the Archive

The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) Archives provides vital information to researchers pursuing topics ranging from the experience of immigrants to the forces shaping the environment in which immigration takes place. Consisting of over 100 collections, the CMS Archives documents the immigrant experience from the mid-19th to the 21st century, in many communities in the eastern half of North America, from the Quebec province of Canada to Venezuela. The CMS Archives is an especially rich source for Italian-American studies, preserving the papers of individuals from the worlds of education, entertainment, labor, politics and publishing, and the records of community organizations such as parishes and educational and historical associations. The CMS Archives maintains materials documenting the experience of immigrants in transit, and holds the papers of legislators who shaped U.S. law and records of agencies that advocated for and provided service to immigrants.

Materials available to researchers include correspondence, rare and ephemeral publications from immigrant communities, sheet music, and a wealth of photographs. Publications based on research in the CMS archives have enhanced understanding of the personal and global forces that have shaped the fate of individuals, the development of communities, the work of philanthropies and the roles of government and global institutions.

[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.