Last week, we joined archives and archivists all over the world in celebrating International Archives Day 2017. The theme of this year’s IAD was “Archives, Citizenship and Interculturalism,” which gave us the perfect reason to mine our collections for a good immigration story.
Marcelle Robert was born in Angoulême, France, in 1902. When she met and married American Chester Dwight Perry in 1925 and planned her move to the United States, it was at a time of increasingly stringent regulations on immigration. Congress had passed the Immigration Act of 1924 only a year earlier, imposing strict nationality quotas on immigrants from European countries and barring Asian immigrants entirely. But as an affidavit prepared by the American Consular Service in La Rochelle, France, shows, Marcelle breezed through the immigration process thanks to her marriage to an American. She was granted “non-quota immigrant” status, exempting her from the hurdles that other immigrants faced and even allowing her to bypass Ellis Island upon arrival in the United States. Marcelle had only to offer up her French passport under her unmarried name to prove her identity, and she was essentially on her way. She settled with Chester in New York and gained her citizenship in 1928.