19 Mar 2016

Why We Do Genealogy

How many times have you been asked why we do genealogy? Back when I was a working archivist-librarian, the bosses who held the pursestrings would ask me why we should even bother with all that old stuff. After all, it was so expensive to take care of and nobody really cared about those dusty old archives. My immediate, though internal, answer was always, "How can you not care about history?" None of my grad school classes in history or library science prepared me to justify archival preservation, research, or outreach, especially to bosses who had never done primary-source research themselves. Eventually I figured out ways (with more or less success) to make preservation and access to the historical records in my care palatable to administrators who only had eyes on the bottom line. Courtesy A few years ago, I posted about a visit to the Tenement Museum, one of the best [...]

8 Mar 2016

Women Lost U.S. Citizenship When Marrying

At certain times in the early 20th century, women lost U.S. citizenship when marrying foreign-born men. The U.S. Expatriation Act of 1907 mandated that all women acquired their husband’s nationality upon marriage. As a result, American women who married foreign-born men in the United States between 1907 and 1922 lost their U.S. citizenship. Before 1907, women who married foreign-born men and continued to live in the United States remained American citizens. After March 2, 1907, provisions of the Expatriation Act changed all this. Congress mandated that “any American woman who marries a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband.” Therefore, after 1907, regardless of where the couple resided, the woman’s citizenship was determined solely by her husband’s. I had heard of this anomaly when I researched naturalization records for my e-book, Discovering Immigrant Ancestors. But I only realized recently that my great-aunt, Louise Marie Hann, found herself exactly in this situation when she married Swedish-born [...]

26 Apr 2013

Finding Alien and Naturalization Records Using USCIS

Recently I was helping a client try to prove that his immigrant ancestor had not been naturalized and this resource was very helpful: The USCIS (US Customs and Immigration Service) maintains historical records documenting the arrival and naturalization of millions of immigrants who arrived in the United States since the late 1800s or/and naturalized between 1906 and 1956. The USCIS Genealogy Program is a fee-for-service program that provides researchers with timely access to historical immigration and naturalization records of deceased immigrants. […]

2 Aug 2010

Cook County Illinois Naturalization Index Online

I don't know how I missed this before, but there's a Cook County Illinois Naturalization Index online. The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives is producing an online index to 500,000 naturalization petitions covering the years 1871 to 1929, presumably for the Midwest. When I visited the Clerk of the Circuit Court office in person in the summer of 2008, I was told that the Declarations of Intention (aka, "first papers," the initial step in the process and usually the one with the most information) had been destroyed years ago and all that was left were the final petitions. The final petitions for my ancestors merely stated the country of origin and not the town or province. So this is great news. Of the 500,000 records currently being indexed, more than 400,000 of these records are Declarations of Intention from 1906-1929. Wow! The project started in 2006 using [...]