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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2245

Immigration Restriction League (U.S.) records


Records of the Immigration Restriction League (U.S.), especially those of Prescott F. (Farnsworth) Hall, one of the founders and executive secretary from 1896-1921.


  • Creation: 1893-1921

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Conditions Governing Use

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.


12.4 linear feet (17 volumes and 25 boxes)

The bulk of this collection consists of the papers of Hall as a member and secretary of the League, and includes internal and external correspondence, essays, drafts, minutes of meetings, printed materials, and newspaper clippings, encompassing approximately the dates 1893-1921. Topics include discussions of desirable and undesirable immigrants, forms of immigration restriction, actions in the U.S. Congress regarding immigration, eugenics, and views of labor on immigration.

Some of the people associated with the inner circle of the IRL were: Prescott F. (Prescott Farnsworth) Hall [secretary and founder], Samuel B. (Samuel Billings) Capen, Thornton Cooke, James Robert Dunbar, George Franklin Edmunds, Frank Boyd Gary, Madison Grant, Henry Holt, William Dewitt Hyde, Joseph Lee Franklin MacVeagh, John F. Moors [president], Robert Treat Paine, Henry Parkman, James Horace Patten, James Bronson Reynolds, Robert DeCourcy Ward, Charles Warren [founder and secretary], and Owen Wister. Collection also includes clippings, pamphlets books, and loose printed materials from the collection of Robert DeCourcy Ward, one of the founders of the IRL.

Biographical / Historical

The Immigration Restriction League was founded in 1894 by three Harvard College graduates, Charles Warren, Robert DeCourcy Ward, and Prescott Farnsworth Hall, in response to an increasing sense of invasion of the United States by "undesirable immigrants" that threatened their sense of the American way of life. The League was founded in Boston, but quickly spread to many other cities across the United States. The main intention of the League was to educate people to what the founders saw as serious problems in the immigration system, to lobby the U.S. government for the reform of that system, to gain support for immigration restriction from major intellectual, industrial, and philanthropic individuals and organizations, and to pass laws effecting the restriction. The League remained active for nearly twenty years, but after the death of Hall their energy waned, and the League eventually disbanded.

Prescott F. (Farnsworth) Hall, in addition to being a founding member of the League, was elected General Secretary to the Executive Committee of Immigration Restriction Leagues, the overarching board for the national movement, in 1896.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Correspondence to and from the IRL
  2. ___A. Correspondence.
  3. ___B. Circular letters
  4. II. Record books of the IRL
  5. III. Scrapbook
  6. IV. Compositions
  7. ___A. Compositions, 1897-1921
  8. ___B. Miscellaneous notes and memoranda, 1894-1921
  9. ___C. Undated compositions
  10. V. Clippings
  11. VI. Printed materials relating to immigration
  12. VII. Printed materials by the IRL
  13. ___A. IRL administrative materials
  14. ___B. IRL numbered publications
  15. ___C. Far Eastern Bureau Reports

Physical Location

Harvard Depository and onsite

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The bulk of these materials form part of the Harvard College Library Immigration Collection of Prescott Farnsworth Hall, Class of 1889, Secretary of the Immigration Restriction League, 1896-1921. Gift of Mrs. Lucyle Hall; received: 1922 Oct. 7.

A small amount of printed and bound materials in this collection formed part of the Robert DeCourcy Ward Immigration Collection given through the Social Ethics Library, 1922 Sept. 21; transferred from Widener in 1999 as *99M-48.

Related Materials

There are also additional materials on immigration and this League in the Harvard Law School Library. See HOLLIS for additional information.

Separated Materials

Part of the Prescott Farnsworth Hall Immigration Collection remains in the collection of printed materials in the Harvard College Library. See HOLLIS for additional information.


For additional information on the League see: Barbara Miller Solomon. Ancestors and Immigrants: A Changing New England Tradition. (University of Chicago Press : 1956).
  • Barbara Miller Solomon. Ancestors and Immigrants: A Changing New England Tradition. (University of Chicago Press : 1956).

Processing Information

Processed by: J.F. Coakley, Katy Rawdon, Deborah A. Richards, Bonnie B. Salt, and Melanie Wisner

Recataloged from the following call numbers:

  1. XP 9979 (formerly US 1058x.xx) loose pamphlets on immigration.
  2. US 10583.9.8 IRL. Annual Reports, 1894-1903.
  3. US 10583.9.25F Record books of the IRL.
  4. US 10583.9.30F Papers: a special collection of manuscript records, reports, etc.
  5. US 10583.9.36 List of previous members, 1927.
  6. XP 9979 (formerly US 10587.20.5, US 10587.20.10) Bound book containing pamphlets on immigration restriction.
  7. XP 9979 (formerly US 10587.20.15, US 10587.20.20, US 10587.20.25, US 10587.20.30, US 10587.20.35) Bound clippings books on immigration restriction.
  8. XP 9979 (formerly US 10587.25.3) Miscellaneous documents relating to immigration from the 54th Congress.
  9. XP 9979 (formerly US 10587.29) Bound clippings books on immigration, 1894-1920.
  10. US 10587.29.5F Scrapbooks of Prescott Hall.
  11. XP 9979 (formerly US 10587.29.10) The Far Eastern Bureau Monthly reports, 1915 Jan. - June.
  12. US 10587.40 Additional manuscript records, reports, etc.
  13. US 10587.43 Luce's clippings on immigration.

Processing Information

This finding aid was revised in 2024 to address derogatory and outdated language. During that revision, it was found that a derogatory term referring to immigrants from China to the United States could not be removed, as it is in a formal title. A contextual note was added. If you have questions or comments about these revisions, please contact Houghton Library. For more information on reparative archival description at Harvard, see Harvard Library’s Statement on Harmful Language in Archival Description.

Immigration Restriction League (U.S.). Immigration Restriction League (U.S.) records, 1893-1921: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
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Repository Details

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