Genealogist to explain on Jan. 28 how to use USCIS records for family history research

"The Five Families of Records of the USCIS Genealogy Program" will be the topic of genealogist Alec Ferretti for the Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024, Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois hybrid meeting. Alec will explain how U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services records are indexed, why getting ahold of them is so difficult, issues plaguing the agency, what is being done to remedy them, and why the records, "cannot just go to NARA."

His online talk will begin at 2 p.m. via Zoom and at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Illinois. He will be speaking remotely, and his presentation will be projected onto the wall at Temple Beth-El.

The JGSI meeting facilities at Temple Beth-El will open at 12:30 p.m. Central Time for those who want to use genealogy library materials, get help with family history websites or ask genealogical questions before the main program begins at 2 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome; however, registration is strongly encouraged.

RSVP by clicking the registration button at left.

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U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services is a federal agency with a byzantine records access regime. This talk will outline the five different record series they make available pursuant to their probably-unlawful genealogy program: C-files, A-files, visa files, registry files, and alien registration forms, which cover nearly any immigrant from the 20th century and many from before. Attendees/viewers will learn how these records are indexed, why getting ahold of them is so difficult, the issues plaguing the agency, what is being done to remedy them, and most important, why the records cannot simply "just go to NARA."

Alec Ferretti is a New-York-City-based professional genealogist, who has worked for the Wells Fargo Family & Business History Center, researching family histories for high net worth clients. Alec specializes in the genealogy of 20th century immigrants to the United States. He is a regular lecturer at genealogical societies and conferences.

He serves as president of the New York Genealogy & Technology Group, and serves actively on the board of directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the board of Reclaim the Records, a non-profit group dedicated to wrangling public records from obstinate government agencies.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping members collect, preserve, and perpetuate the records and history of their ancestors. JGSI is a resource for the worldwide Jewish community to research their Chicago-area roots. The JGSI motto is "Members Helping Members Since 1981." The group has more than 300 members and is affiliated with the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

JGSI members have access to useful and informative online family history research resources, including a members' forum, more than 70 video recordings of past speakers' presentations, monthly JGSI E-News, quarterly Morasha JGSI newsletter, and much more.

For more information, see or phone 312-666-0100.

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