On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany, taking the United States into World War I. Many Germans, attempting to flee from the horrors of the war, immigrated to the United States. Both new immigrants and those who’d been in the country for a longer period were viewed with great caution by citizens unsure of where their new neighbors’ alliance stood.
This cautious view of immigrant Germans, many of whom spoke English, resulted in the U.S. Department of Justice requiring immigrants to carry alien registration cards for the duration of the war. The registration card was mandated via a proclamation by President Wilson in 1918.
The registration card pictured is that of Henrietta Gast of Laketown Township, Carver County. John and Henrietta Gast immigrated from Prussia Germany in 1888. When World War I broke out, their son Ferdinand fought for the U.S. Lifelong farmers, John died in 1924 and Henrietta in 1940.
- Wendy Petersen Biorn
Executive Director, Carver County Historical Society