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Stuck: Immigration, Naturalization and Repatriation in the WWI Era

Sunday, March 17, 2024, 02:00pm - 04:00pm
Contact program@jgsny.org
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Speaker: Renée Carl

Stolen passports, pleading letters and fake visas all appear in the US State Department’s Records of Foreign Service Posts. These documents tell harrowing tales of families separated by WWI, and the incredible lengths people went to in order to leave war-torn Europe and reunite with relatives in America.

In the years before WWI, husbands immigrated to the USA, intending to send for their family after getting settled, but the outbreak of war turned temporary situations into lengthy separations. Other cases illustrate a short visit to see family in the Old Country morphing into a years-long ordeal.

Both during and particularly after the war, the emergence of new European countries meant new rules and regulations controlling movement and emigration. Simultaneously, panic over an assumed mass influx of war refugees spurred the US Congress to pass restrictive laws that imposed quotas on would-be immigrants.

This presentation highlights some of the incredible experiences families endured during this era, and explains the records used to recount their stories.


Renée Carl is a professional genealogist and advocate for historic preservation and records access. She previously worked in public policy, until realizing that researching dead people is easier than working with Congress. Her background in government and cultural anthropology brings an unique perspective to locating and interpreting records.

Renée is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, and the JewishGen Latvia Research Group. She also serves as a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists Advocacy Committee and as policy advisor to the RecordsNotRevenue.com campaign. Renée worked as a researcher for Season 2 of PBS’ Genealogy Roadshow and served as lead researcher for Season 3. She regularly researches at the National Archives, Library of Congress, and U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum. You can find Renée online at EasternEuropeanMutt.com.

Co-sponsored by the Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. (JGSNY) and the Center for Jewish History

Location : Center for Jewish History + Zoom
Registration will be required in advance for in-person attendance as well as for Zoom attendance. In-person attendance will be capped at 80, so early registration, is recommended when it opens in a few months.