The 3,500 cards have been available to view at Jersey Archive for many years but can now be downloaded on a pay per view basis or as part of an annual subscription to the Archives and Collections Online resource.
They were introduced as a result of the Aliens Restriction Act passed on 17 February 1920, when the States of Jersey enacted the principles of the 1914 English Aliens Restrictions Act. Under the law, all aliens over the age of sixteen resident in Jersey had to register with the Immigration Officer, no matter how old they were or how long they had been living in the Island. From this process, a set of cards were created with personal details such as name, address, date of birth and occupation, and each card had a photograph attached which unusually was provided by the individual.
The Alien cards were issued up until the 1960s and, initially, any woman who married a foreign national was also required to register for a card, as well as anyone of foreign parentage. The cards are closed for 100 years from the date of the individual’s birth.
These records are a tremendous resource for anyone wanting to trace their ancestors who were born outside of Jersey and Great Britain but resided in Jersey in the 19th and 20th centuries. Other details on the cards include the date of arrival in the UK or Jersey, the place of last residence, date of marriage, date of naturalisation, if applicable, and often a date of death. Anyone registered as an alien had to report any change of address to the Aliens’ Office, as well as any travel to or from Jersey, and this information was recorded on the back of the card providing a very useful record of their movements.
The collection has helped to record Jersey’s history of immigration from the 1840s to the 1960s. The majority of the Alien cards are of French agricultural workers who came to Jersey for employment; however, there are also cards for Italian and Spanish nationals who came to the Island later to work in the hospitality industry, as well as small numbers of many different nationalities including Russians, Japanese and an Iranian.
Linda Romeril, Head of Archives and Collections at Jersey Heritage said, ‘We have an astonishing collection of documents and official records and are working hard to make more and more available online. The catalogue is a fully searchable and a very valuable resource for people to discover more about their, and the Island’s, heritage at the click of a mouse.’
The Jersey Heritage’s Archives and Collections Online Catalogue is found at http://catalogue.jerseyheritage.org/.