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Description found in Archives
Sub-series consists of
Sub-series part of
1873-1973, microfilmed [ca. 19--]
Place of creation
No place, unknown, or undetermined
140.35 m of textual records
Scope and content
Sub-series consists of records containing the core subject files of the Ottawa headquarters of the federal office responsible for immigration, on all aspects of its activities under the Immigration Act from about 1892 to about 1946. Some files also contain earlier or later correspondence, incorporated into the series for reference purposes or to document continuing cases. Responsibility for immigration was transferred in 1892 from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior by Order in Council (P.C. 680, March 14, 1892). The Immigration Branch of the Department was established the next year, effective March 1, 1893. The Branch's first set of subject files, the First Central Registry system, was established some time in 1892. It continued in use until about 1946, when it began to be replaced by the Second Central Registry series, (see RG76- B-1-b). However, the old First CR files were not fully phased out for several decades thereafter. Registry staff continued to place what were supposed to be duplicates of certain documents on First CR files not yet closed out until the mid-1950s. A few active case files (Vols. 737-742 for examples) were maintained under their original numbers until the mid-1970s to document long-running cases. The First Central Registry system was initially straight-numeric, but became alpha-numeric when the number of files reached 999,999. Files were created in numerical sequence, as follows:1 to 999,999 (1892-ca.1924); A1 to A99,999 (ca.1924-ca.1945); B1 to B99,999 (ca.1945-ca.1948); C1 to C99,999 (ca.1948-ca.1950; see note below); D1 to D99,999 (ca.1950-ca.1954); E1 to E99,999 (ca.1954-ca.1955). The system was a conventional central registry filing system similar to others in use at the time. It consisted of correspondence registers, register indexes, and files numbered in a chronological order rather than a subject code. Each incoming letter or other document received a sequential unique identifying number. When a document on a new subject was received, a new file was created and given the number of that document. Thus, files on all the various immigration activities were inter-filed at random: the general file on German immigration is file 682 (RG76, Vols. 30-31) while material relating to the later activities of the special agent to Germany is on file 805846 (RG76, Vol. 550). There were only a few attempts at grouping related files in one file sequence or series. An example is the suffixed 355 series -- including the main file 355 ("Inspection of Immigrants at Ports of Landing") and subordinate files 355-QUEBEC and 355-SYDNEY ("Inspection of Immigrants at ports of [Quebec and Sydney, respectively]"). There are many gaps and chronological irregularities in the numbering of the surviving files in this sub-series. There are three reasons for this. First, in a central registry system only a limited portion of all numbers assigned are ever actually used as file numbers: many letters are placed on files already in existence and their numbers are accordingly not used. Second, most of the individual case files, personnel records, and general housekeeping material have been removed from the series by the department and destroyed, or brought forward into other filing systems. (Partial lists of destroyed records are available; see finding aid 76-11). In particular, many of the files which were created after 1930 were brought forward into the new registry series established in 1946 (see the Second Central Registry System or "500" block, RG76-B-1-b). Third, groups of files from other file systems have been silently incorporated into the main CR series. Some of the files with a "C" prefix were originally created by the Commissioner of Immigration for the Eastern District, whose headquarters were in Ottawa. Subject files created by the Chinese Immigration service while it resided in the Customs/Trade and Commerce departments were incorporated into the CR series in about 1911. Other early files of undetermined departmental origin were probably merged into the sub-series, particularly in the segment numbered 800,000 to 900,000.
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