The U.S. government was prepared to destroy millions of files documenting every person who immigrated to this country, or tried to, over the last century.
Instead, those records will be saved and the vast majority of them will be kept in the Kansas City area, providing invaluable information to historians, genealogists and the merely curious. They’re called A-files, as in alien registration files. They are the paperwork of the wretched refuse and the huddled masses and everyone else who yearned for a better life in America.
The minutiae of every great migration wave of the 20th century are recorded in citizenship applications, photographs, personal correspondence, foreign birth certificates, marriage licenses, health records, interview transcripts and more. People might learn where their great-grandfather lived and what he did for a living in the old country. Sociologists might glean insight into who was on the move and why. Researchers might discover patterns in the way immigrants were treated over the years.
You can read more in an article by Matt Campbell in the Kansas City Star at http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/story/1252050.html.