US Immigration forms in the 1920’s: “Are you an anarchist?”

5 Sep

After all the research I’ve completed on my ancestors who went to the USA during the 1850’s, I decided to go back to my close ancestors on dad’s side in the Levis region, south of Quebec city.

Now, in my family tree, there are a lot of Belanger surnames, in fact most marriages between Goulet and Belanger have always been tinted with a touch of consanguinity. People use to marry their first or second cousin all the time! But let’s get back to Quebec where I’ve been extracting information on records on the Belanger family of Levis, St-Jean Chrysostome and Breakeyville region. My 2nd great-granfather Jean-Philippe Belanger (1856-1909) had a son Napoleon Belanger (1881-1937) born in Levis. Napoleon married Anna Blanchet (1882-ca1925) on 25 Aug 1904 in Quebec city.

Amongst their children, Aime Belanger was born in August 1907: according to family he left with his younger brother Alexis J (1910-1951) to Berlin, NH and never came back to Quebec. Now, I was back in familiar territory, I’m quite used to finding french-canadian cousins emigrating to the US (always remember wildcards using databases and search engines!): I found a record for Aime Belanger crossing the border at Beecher Falls, VT on 23 Nov 1923, going to North Stratford, NH. All the information from the record seemed to fit the info I had on Aime.

Aime Belanger in Nov 1923, Vermont Source: Ancestry.com. Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956

Aime Belanger in Nov 1923, Vermont
Source: Ancestry.com. Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956

Now a closer look at the image left me a bit shocked, on the lower right of the form, the immigration officer had to tick whether the alien was… an anarchist? It left me baffled the same way when I heard stories of people traveling to the USA post-9/11 and having to fill out forms where you were asked if you were a terrorist, etc. I know for a fact that the great depression, prohibition laws and the fear of communists drove to silly behaviors US officials but I can’t quite place the relevancy of this question in the 1920’s: “Are you an anarchist?”. A Catholic French-Canadian. Come on.

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3 Responses to “US Immigration forms in the 1920’s: “Are you an anarchist?””

  1. Petropavlovsk Rebels (@pyotr_kropotkin) September 6, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    Avowed anarchists began to be excluded from entering the US in 1903 after anarchist Leon Czolgosz assassinated President McKinley. Then in 1918, anarchist organizations were banned outright, with foreign members subject to deportation, which led to the Palmer raids in 1919 and the deportation of 250 anarchists, including Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, on the USS Buford. And many other anarchist deportations as well…So in the 1920’s, this was still a lingering issue.

    • Marylene September 7, 2014 at 8:19 am #

      Thank you for those infos Pyotr!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Aime Belanger AKA “Jack Acer” : A naturalization mystery | The Family History Rogue - September 8, 2014

    […] my genealogy research every day, especially that I can be prone to overconfidence. I said in my last post, that finding french-canadian cousins in the USA was an easy task for me: this one got the best of […]

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