Family History Research

Naturalization Records

Saturday I attended the DuPage County Genealogical Society Conference in St. Charles, IL. I heard John Philip Colletta talk about Naturalization Records and Advanced Problem Solving. It was fantastic.

One thing he mentioned was that those declaring their intentions to become citizens were not given a copy of their declaration. It was only in some cases where a person was maybe moving to a new area before final naturalization or wanted the record for a reason that a certified copy was provided.

After Colletta said this, I thought wow, really? This was strange because I have an original certified copy of my husband’s great grandfather’s Declaration of Intention. So now I’m making notes in my conference syllabus to investigate this. The great grandfather died before he was naturalized. Why he would want a copy of his Declaration? Was he planning on leaving Chicago? Did he need it for a specific reason?

Then I did a little research on the topic. I wonder if I mis-heard Colletta when he stated the people did not receive a copy. Maybe he meant before 1906? After 1906, those declaring were given a copy as the paperwork changed. It also raises the question, if the courts were not giving out copies of the Declaration, how could you just walk into another court and apply for final papers? Colletta made it clear several times you could declare and apply for final papers in any court and it did not have to be the same court. What was the process by which they verified you declared your intention?

I will have to look more into that. I did not find that answer in my brief research yesterday. If you have experience with this, please comment.

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Preparing for research trips

Next week I hope to take two research trips, one to the Newberry Library, and one to IRAD at NEIU and from there stop across the street at Bohemian National Cemetery and then drive to St. Adalbert’s to cemetery hop. I decided since I have so many things I want to research on those trips, I am going to take my nine year old son along to help. He is in the gifted reading and writing program at school and I’m sure these new research skills he will learn will help him in 4th grade. He isn’t so thrilled but if I can find one or two things in the research that will grab his attention, it will be fine.

So of course, I begin the task of outlining all the things I want to find out while researching, starting with the trip to IRAD and cemeteries. We all know being organized before a trip helps immensely when researching.  One of the things I organized last night is an Excel file of my burial lists. I have one file with several tabs. The first tab is my entire genealogy file list of people, birth and death dates, burial place and grave location. Of course not every person has a burial place listed yet and some have a place but no grave location. Subsequent tabs are broken out by cemetery. On those tabs I added a column called DC (Death Certificate). I want to start tracking everyone for which I have a death certificate which will make my many lists of “want to find certificates” less cluttered. Those need to be condensed and made ready for another trip to the Illinois State Archives anyway.

When that task is complete by this evening, I hope, my next task will be to create a file for all my Naturalization documents. I envision this as another Excel file with a master tab listing, and a tab for those I have documents for broken out by name, date of birth, date of arrival, Ship Manifest, Declaration date, Petition date, Naturalization Date, Notes.  Maybe I can get my son to help fill this file in. He thinks it is interesting that we cannot find ship logs for some of our ancestors and at times he seems determined to find them.

And finally, before my week ends, I hope to also have a file listing of people to search for in Probate records at IRAD.  Many things to research in one day, but with some help, hopefully I can make a dent in the lists. Whatever is left when we return home will be made ready for another research trip soon.

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Check your data and fill in gaps

As I think about things to write for my blog, it reminds me to go back to my research and recheck data, see where I am on my goals, what letters I need to write to obtain new information, and find out what is still missing that I want to discover.

My latest project idea came about after I wrote about Naturalization and Women last week. I thought it would be a good idea to make an Excel file with the names of the people in my main lines (to start), their date of birth, date of immigration, date of Declaration, date of Naturalization, and occupation.

As I look at the data, I have 24 people in my main lines who immigrated. Of those I have dates of immigration for 22. Of those, I have iffy dates, meaning I put Abt. 1880 as a date, for two. Looking more at the data I see I have very few Declaration and Naturalization dates recorded. Why is that? Did I not enter them in my database? Did I only have a Naturalization date and no Declaration date? I think I need to go back through my paper files and try to answer some of these questions. If I do not have a record, it is time to search for one or see if I have a letter from IRAD (Illinois Regional Archives Depository) stating no record was found.

I listed occupation in my file because I would like to expand this and add children to the immigrants and trace the occupations of those children. Did most of the male children follow in the footsteps of their father, or choose a different trade? Did the women follow in their mother’s footsteps and become wives and mothers?

I love Excel sheets, can you tell since this is my second post about them and I am using them for several purposes? I have another file specifically for Burial listings. I created a Burial report in my Family Tree Maker software and exported it to Excel. The file contains the person’s first and last names, date of death, cemetery name, location of grave. This of course is an ongoing project to find as many grave sites as I can to fill in the gaps. I have 2,336 people in my database so far and grave sites for only about 95 of them. Time to start researching more death certificates and obituaries and asking the family about some of the more recent people who have died.

What is your latest project for your research? Are you filling in gaps with different data than I am looking at? Have you created other types of reports and spreadsheets to capture missing data? I would love to hear about it. I’m always looking for new ways to add information to the lives of my ancestors.

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Women and the Naturalization Process

This week I came across a Naturalization Record Index Card for my husband’s great grandmother, Rose La Mantia Murabito. It stated she was repatriated. This confused me a great deal because she was born in Chicago, which is in the United States last I checked. I doubled checked her birth certificate to make sure I had it and it was her. It was. So why in 1939 was Rose being repatriated?

A kind blog reader commented on my post regarding this issue and sent me to a website regarding loss of citizenship due to marriage. This thought crossed my mind before I wrote the post but I could not locate anything specific on this. When researching both my lines and my husband’s, I suppose I just assumed all of the women in our direct lines became citizens. It never occurred to me that one of the women in my tree would have lost her citizenship until I found this index card. Due to this discovery, I took a closer look at my direct lines. Rose was the only woman on either side that was born in the U.S. but married an Alien after 1907. The rest of the women were either married upon arrival; married an Alien after arrival and was naturalized with him; or obtained naturalization on her own.

Today as I dig further into the Naturalization process and the information I thought to be correct, until this case arose, I am learning a lot about the changes in laws. KindredConnections has a fantastic article on the Naturalization Process called “Where are they? Finding Your Ancestors’ US Naturalization Records.”  In the article’s section about Women, the author, Karen Clifford, states, “An act passed in 1907 stated that a woman’s nationality depended entirely on her husband’s. This meant that if her husband gained citizenship, so did she. It also meant that if a woman who had been born a US citizen married an alien, she lost her citizenship. She could repatriate only if and when her husband naturalized.”

That completely explains Rose’s case. Isn’t it funny that I have read many articles on Naturalization and listened to speakers, yet never heard or saw this tidbit of information? I guess it is a good example of having blinders on and only seeing or hearing what we need at the time for the research we are doing.

Another great resource I discovered is from the National Archives. There is an informative article on their website from the Prologue Magazine, Summer 1998, Vol. 30, No. 2, called “Any woman who is now or may hereafter be married . . .” Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940 By Marian L. Smith

If you have other great Naturalization Process websites, please post them in the comments section.

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