The National Archives – One of my favorite research sites

 Rode Project

 I love the National Archives website.  It is quick and easy to use.  Although it doesn’t always yield information about my research subject, when it does, the information is incredible.

Adolph Rode

I was recently researching Adolph Rode as part of my Rode Project. Because of the Census records, I knew that Adolph immigrated about 1912[i], he filed his First Papers sometime before 1930[ii], and he had naturalized before 1940[iii].

Just the fact that he immigrated, and thus was at some point an Alien, is enough for me to check that an individual might have a record at the National Archives. Searching the National Archives Catalog is very easy and something you should do for any immigrants in your research. Just enter the name of the individual in the search box; in my case I entered: Adolph Rode.  At the top of the results was “Alien Case File for Adolph Rode.”  The results also include the date of birth and the place of birth, so there was no doubt that the record was the Adolph Rode I was researching.

Next, I wondered if there were any other family members with Alien Case files.

Another search, this time for:  “Rode” “Alien Case File” returned 20 results. I scanned the names for other family members.  The only other familiar name was Adolph’s wife, Louisa. Two records – definitely worth ordering, so I ordered them.

It took a few days to have the records sent from the warehouse to the Archives Office, have the documents scanned, then have the images emailed to me.  I had the option to have them USPS  mailed to me, but I’d just scan them myself and then wonder what to do with the paper copies I received. (Throwing them out just wouldn’t seem right.)

The documents arrived. Some pages were useless, like the back side to an old computer punch card or the form on the backside of a letter that wasn’t filled out. One document in the package was the treasure trove of information that I was hoping for – a Form AR-2 Alien Registration Form.

Registration of Aliens was required by the Alien Act of 1940 and all who registered between 1 August 1940 and 31 March 1944 used the Form AR-2.  I was surprised to see Adolph had a Form AR2 on file. I know when an individual becomes naturalized their A-File is consolidated into their naturalization file. Looking closer at the documents, one of them was about Reinold Rode (Adolph’s son) and identified him as 4 585 609, the same number as his father. It looks as though when Reinold applied for citizenship, they reopened Adolph’s record.

In any event, the Adolph Rode – Alien Case File is a treasure trove of information. There are bits of fun information, such as, Adolph physical description was: 5’2” 165lbs, red hair blue eyes.  There is also key new information, such as Adolph entered the US as a passenger aboard the S. S. Barbrasussa on Apr 25, 1913.  I also learned he was “called by the draft in Nov. 1918,” which indicates he at least registered, and I learned that his First Papers were received on August 1922 in Madison, Nebraska[iv].

Alien Registration Form – AF-2 – Front
Adolph Rode
Source: National Archives; Alien Case Files; File A4585609
Alien Registration Form – AF-2 – Back
Adolph Rode
Source: National Archives; Alien Case Files; File A4585609


The Alien Case File for Adolph Rode provided what all really great sources should provide:

  • Easy search function
  • Access to original documents,
  • Provide answers to genealogical questions
  • Provide the basis for fresh inquiries.

Future Actions

  • Find records regarding Adolph’s arrived in the US aboard the S. S. Barbrarussa.
  • Find Adolph’s WW1 Draft Registration Record
  • Track down First Papers
  • Confirm Naturalization.
  • Follow lives of Margaret, Ruddolph, and Otto


[i] Family Search; 1920 Census; Adolph Rode; Dimick, Stanton, Nebraska; ED 204, Sheet 8B, Line 65,
[ii] Family Search; 1930 Census; Adolph Rohde (Rode) – Slough, Pierce Nebraska, Sheet 4A, Line 12;
[iii] Family Search; 1940 Census; Adolph Rode – Willow Twp, Antelope, Nebraska – ED 2-32, Sheet 4A, family 63;
[iv] National Archives – Kansas City; Alien Case File; A4585609 – Adolph Rode.
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