I’ve been thinking about your question for a long time,
wondering how to answer in a simple way. This is my long-winded
Several of the replies below have good information that
helps. For example, David stressed the importance of examining
the List of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry to look for clues,
and includes the caveat that “only a few BSI hearing records
survive.” That is true. Only cases where the decision of the
Board of Special Inquiry was appealed survive.
But when I went to look at the
for your Ettel and Riwke Rand, I saw a big clue—a
stamp (upside down) saying “HOLD ON APPEAL.” So there was an
appeal in their case. If that file survives it should be at the
National Archives in Washington, DC. But it cannot be requested
without a file number.
Another reply came from Wendy, who was able to obtain just
such a file from NARA after obtaining information from USCIS.
My guess is USCIS searched their internal index upon Wendy’s
request and replied by providing her the file number needed for
NARA to locate the file. But can we find Ettel Rand’s file
number without asking USCIS? In many cases, yes.
First, I searched the INS Subject Correspondence index
1906-1957 (T458), now searchable by name on Ancestry.com
. I searched by name (Rand, R*nd, etc.) and found
nothing. I was unable to search on the cause of exclusion
(health condition) because we didn’t know what ailed her/them.
I searched the ship name (RYNDAM, RJINDAM, etc.) and learned
the first card for that ship is dated May 1908. So your Rand
case seems to be too early for the INS Subject Index/T458.
So second, I searched the INS Name Index ca. 1893-1932
which actually dates ca. 1898-1903 with some as late as 1911.
This index is made of two parts (two indexes, really) and ONE
part is digitized and searchable in the NARA online catalog
. But again, I could not find any reference to Ettel
or Riwke Rand. [The other half/other index is digitized and
being indexed by NARA staff, who are working hard. Perhaps
those cards cover the time period you need? Time will tell.]
Not giving up, I went back to the December 1907 RYNDAM
passenger list, specifically to the BSI lists at the end, and
looked for other passengers who were deported or might have had
an appeal. Usually, if I can find a few other cases from the
same ship I can find at least one of those names in the INS
Subject Index or the Name Index (both discussed above). The
reason I do so is because all the appeal cases from New York (or
any other port) were forwarded in batches (or bunches) to
Washington, DC. In Washington, INS typically assigned all the
files in a batch with consecutive numbers. Thus if I can find
another case from that day I can identify a file number very
close to the one I seek. Usually.
In this case I could not find any of the names of deported
passengers from the RYNDAM. So I searched for ships before and
after, first from the same day, then a day before and day after.
Still no luck. What I learned is there is a gap in the indices
from late 1907 to early 1908. I do not know why. I assume the
files are there but are not indexed by anything publicly
There is a good chance USCIS could find the reference in
their Master Index and provide you the needed number. Sadly
that means a USCIS Genealogy Program Index Search Request ($65).
If you submit a request to USCIS, include a note or comment
that you especially want them to look for “an archives card.”
p.s. I did have one other idea, but it would not provide the
needed appeal file number. Correspondence FROM Ellis Island
from 1903 to 1912 survives (tissue copies) at NARA in
Washington, DC, catalog record
. It is filed chronologically with many letters
outgoing each day, including the cover letters transmitting
appeals to Washington. The first hearing in Ettel’s case was
Dec 11th, something was withdrawn Dec. 17th, and deportation
took place Jan 7th. Searching these would require starting at
December 11, 1907 and reading forward (for maybe a week?)
looking for the letter naming Ettel Rand. The letter itself
would be boilerplate and, as I said, would not provide the file
number needed. But it would give a good idea of the date when
the file was opened in Washington (1 or 2 days after the date of
the Ellis Island letter).