Source Information

California State Archive
Ancestry.com. California, Alien Land Ownership Records, 1921-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.
Original data: Secretary of State. Alien Land Law Reports. ID #1-6000. California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

About California, Alien Land Ownership Records, 1921-1952

In the early 20th century, Japanese immigrants were coming to California in large numbers, spurring anti-Japanese and Asian sentiment throughout the state. Because many of these immigrants took up farming and owned land, restricting land ownership was seen as a way to stem the tide of immigration. The records in this collection represent individuals who attempted to circumvent these laws by means such as having their American-born children become the owners of the estate.

In 1920 an amendment to an earlier 1913 proposition required guardians to be appointed to minor citizens whose parents could not own real property and were therefore ineligible for citizenship. The guardians were required to file annual reports with the Secretary of State. The reports detailed the property held by the guardian for the minor, the date it "came within his control, and all income and expenditures relative thereto." Most of these accounts relate to agricultural operations.

Aimed particularly at Japanese immigrants, these laws also impacted Chinese, Indian, and Korean immigrants. The measure was declared unconstitutional by the California Supreme Court in 1952 (Sei Fujii v the State of California, LA21149).

This collection includes land reports filed by guardians, as well as a card index for part of the collection. The cards are categorized by guardian or estate and provide the name of the guardian, names of the estate holders, the county, the date the report was filed, and the box and file number. Land report files can be particularly interesting because they include details about the family’s business affairs and mention individuals and companies the family did business with. For each record in this collection, researchers have the option of viewing images for both the index card and the report file. When viewing the report file, the first page that appears will be the page containing the file number. This may be either the first or last page of the report file, so researchers will need to determine whether to browse forward or backward in order to view the rest of the file.