I was browsing the new additions to ancestry.com the other day and came across an interesting find. It’s the “San Francisco, California, Surrendered Alien Certificates, 1906-1946” database.
The database covers many people who came from Hawaii to California who were not citizens of the US. You may not know that immigrants living in Hawaii at the time Hawaii became a territory did not automatically gain US citizenship. Those born in Hawaii were American citizens. Those born outside of Hawaii (except for those who were already US citizens obviously) had whatever citizenship they maintained before territorial status. I suspect that because many of these immigrants were in Hawaii 10-20 years before annexation they may not have bothered with citizenship. It wasn’t a big deal for them.
When they traveled to California to visit their children or other relatives, they carried an Alien Registration card. The document was designed to allow those who were from US territories who were not citizens the ability to travel to the US.
The card probably does contain a lot of information that you don’t already know about your ancestor. It contain identifying information such has age, hair color, eye color, weight, and height. It states what country they are a citizen of and when they arrived in Hawaii (or whatever territory). It also states their destination.
I didn’t have any luck finding my relatives. However, I found many people from Hawaii with Portuguese sounding names.
Note: Although the database title states that it begins with 1906, the information in the description states that it covers 1912-1921 and 1921-1946. This could explain why I didn’t find any of my relatives. Many of them came over between 1905-1910.
[Ancestry.com is a paid subscription service. You will need access to a paid subscription, either your own or through an institution, in order to access this database.]
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com