University of Minnesota

Immigration and Refugee Services of America (IRSA), Records

Finding Aid


Immigration History Research Center, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota

Descriptive summary

Dates: 1918-1986
Abstract: Records (1918- ) of the American Council of Nationalities Services (New York City) contain records and publications of its predecessors, the Foreign Language Information Service, the Common Council for American Unity, and the American Federation of International Institutes. The collection records the activities of the service, which was interested in all aspects of immigration and resettlement, including educational services, ethnic presses and radio, social services, and immigration legislation.
Quantity: 259 linear ft.
Language: In multiple languages.
Collection ID: IHRC1013


Donated by the Immigration and Refugee Services of America


The American Council for Nationalities Services had its origins during World War I in the United States Committee on Public Information, Division of Work with the Foreign Born. After several brief nongovernmental affiliations, the Division became independent in 1921 as the Foreign Language Information Service (FLIS). Its main purpose was educational; it also provided service to immigrant organizations. The FLIS was disbanded in 1939 and succeeded by Common Council for American Unity (CCAU).The CCAU was responsible for release of information to the foreign language press, operated a radio service, published Common Ground, and worked with the government to help with activities such as alien registration and foreign language publicity. In 1959, after much preliminary discussion, the CCAU merged with the American Federation of International Institutes under the new name American Council for Nationalities Service (ACNS). The ACNS carried on most of the projects and activities of its predecessor organizations, including work with the foreign language press and radio, nationality groups, and the U.S. government. It has played an important role in resettlement of Cuban and Southeast Asian refugees.



The collection is open for research with the exception of the Cuban Refugee Case Files (Record Group 5, American Council for Nationalities Service, Cuban Resettlement Project, Series 2 - Case Files). Access to the Cuban Refugee Case Files is restricted. Please contact the IHRC to learn how to gain permission to view these files.


The Immigration and Refugee Services of America (IRSA) collection is the physical property of the Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota.

For further information regarding the copyright, please contact the IHRC.

Related collections

In 2002-2003, the Gale Research Group microfilmed significant portions of the collection housed at the IHRC. This microfilm is available for purchase from Gale. An on-line inventory of the microfilmed files is available at the following links:

Gale on-line Guides

Downloadable inventory of microfilmed contents

IRSA microfilm for sale from Gale


The Immigration and Refugee Services of America (IRSA) Records, General/Multiethnic Collection, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota

Index Terms

Social work with immigrants.
Children of immigrants.
Language and languages--Study and teaching.
Refugees--Services for.
Foreign language publications.

Description of Series

This section briefly describes each series in the collection. A more detailed description of the contents of each series may be found in the following section.

SERIES 1. Board of Trustees

SERIES 2. Administration

Detailed Description of the Collection

SERIES 1. Board of Trustees

SUBSERIES 1. Meetings
BOX 1.
FOLDER 1. Minutes, 1921-1924
FOLDER 2. Minutes, 1925
FOLDER 3. Minutes, 1926
FOLDER 4. Minutes, 1927
FOLDER 5. Minutes, 1928
FOLDER 6. Minutes, 1929
FOLDER 7. Minutes, 1930
FOLDER 8. Minutes, 1931
FOLDER 9. Minutes, 1932
FOLDER 10. Minutes, 1933
FOLDER 11. Minutes, 1934
BOX 2.
FOLDER 1. Minutes, 1935
FOLDER 2. Minutes, 1936
FOLDER 3. Minutes, 1937
FOLDER 4. Minutes, 1938
FOLDER 5. Notices to Board Members, 1925-1929
FOLDER 6. Notices to Board Members, 1930-1932
FOLDER 7. Notices to Board Members, 1933-1935
FOLDER 8. Notices to Board Members, 1936-1939
FOLDER 9. Meeting Agendas 1924-1927, 1930-1931, 1938-1939
FOLDER 10. Reports, 1936-1940
BOX 3.
FOLDER 1. Lists of Trustees, Election Results, Resignation Letters, 1938-1940
FOLDER 2. Marked Ballots regarding Immigration Policy, 1939
SUBSERIES 2. Committees
BOX 3.
FOLDER 3. Advisory Council - Minutes, 1923-1926
FOLDER 4. Advisory Council - Membership Suggestion, Correspondence, Lists, 1924-1939
FOLDER 5. Committee on Incorporation and Name Change - Report, 1930
FOLDER 6. Certification of Incorporation and Extracts of New York Law, 1929-1930
FOLDER 7. By-Laws, 1930
FOLDER 8. Committee on Finance & Extension - Financial Information, Appeal List, Summaries of Work, etc., 1928-1929
FOLDER 9. Lists of Prospective Contributors, Correspondence, 1939
FOLDER 10. Foreign Language Press Committee - Minutes, Agendas, 1927-1928
FOLDER 11. Local Committees - Correspondence, Statements of Purpose, Program of Work, 1926-1928
FOLDER 12. Cleveland Committee - Report, 1927-1928
SUBSERIES 3. Individual
BOX 3.
FOLDER 13. Louis Adamic - Correspondence, 1939-1940
FOLDER 14. Louis Adamic - Correspondence, 1939-1940
FOLDER 15. Louis Adamic - Correspondence, 1936-1938
FOLDER 16. Louis Adamic - Correspondence, Notes, Article, 1936-1939
FOLDER 17. Louis Adamic - Draft of "Plymouth Rock & Ellis Island," Correspondence, 1939
BOX 4.
FOLDER 1. Louis Adamic - Correspondence, etc. regarding the "Who's Who" Project and Lecture Mailings, 1939-1940
FOLDER 2. Louis Adamic - "Aliens and Alien Barters," 1936
FOLDER 3. Louis Adamic - "Who Built America," 1934
FOLDER 4. Louis Adamic - Articles, n.d.
FOLDER 5. Louis Adamic - Clippings, Press Releases, 1934
FOLDER 6. Major Sigurd J. Arnesen - Correspondence, 1936-1939
FOLDER 7. Dorothy Schiff Backer - Correspondence, 1934-1939
FOLDER 8. Sylvan Gotshal - Correspondence, 1936-1939
FOLDER 9. Nicholas Kelly - Correspondence, 1936-1939
FOLDER 10. Mrs. Jacob Riis - Correspondence, 1934-1939
FOLDER 11. Mrs. DeWitt Stetten - Correspondence, 1939

SERIES 2. Administration

SUBSERIES 1. General Administrative
BOX 4.
FOLDER 12. Committee on Public Information - Petition, Photograph, Speech, 1918
FOLDER 13. Foreign Language Governmental Information Service Bureau - Bulletin, 1919
FOLDER 14. Bureau of Foreign Language Information Service of the American Red Cross - Correspondence, etc., 1920-1921
FOLDER 15. Bureau of Foreign Language Information Service of the American Red Cross - Reports, 1919-1921

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