September 30, 2014

Finding Naturalization Records: Where are the Women?

Women’s suffragists demonstrate in February 1913. Photographer unknown. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Women’s suffragists demonstrate in February 1913. Photographer unknown. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

We’re nearing the completion of the enormous Community Indexing Project of U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Records. Already finding naturalization records is a lot easier: we can search newly-created indexes to millions of naturalization records at FamilySearch.org. But often we don’t find the women we’re looking for.

Let’s look at why. But I’ll warn you, the reasons aren’t pretty. In the past, women had very few legal rights. None could vote. Married women had even fewer rights. Typically their legal identity disappeared when they married, enveloped by their husband’s. Married women did not handle legal matters in their own name, own property or keep their own money. Sometimes they did not even have legal liability for their actions. This was known as the legal principle of coverture.

In 1855, a law was enacted establishing that women who weren’t ineligible for other reasons (like race) were automatically made citizens when their husbands were naturalized. There was no extra paperwork or court costs. Their husbands’ papers (in combination with their marriage records) served as proof of the women’s citizenship, even though before 1906, you will not usually find the women’s names even listed on their husbands’ applications.

This represented a step forward for most married women, but not all. If a husband didn’t naturalize, the wife couldn’t naturalize without him. On the flip side, if a U.S.-born woman married a foreigner, she often lost her U.S. citizenship, whether or not she left the country. This problem wasn’t fully resolved until many years later; learn more about the laws and resulting paperwork in this article by the National Archives.

Naturalization laws were not applied evenly, and some women got their citizenship anyway. Eventually, as women won voting rights in various states in the early 1900s, men who applied to naturalize were sometimes denied because their wives, who would be granted citizenship and therefore voting privileges, didn’t speak English or meet other requirements. Men complained that their wives’ nationalities were getting in the way, a problem women had lived with for years!

Check out this interactive timeline on women's right to vote in the U.S.

Check out this interactive timeline on women’s right to vote in the U.S.

In 1922, women gained the right to naturalize independent of marital status. If their husbands were already citizens, they didn’t have to file declarations of intentions (the first step in the paperwork process), just a petition (the second step in the process). Otherwise, they had to fill out both sets of papers. Eventually even this link to their husbands’ citizenship disappeared, and they just filled out their own entirely separate paperwork.

My Great Grandmother’s Petition for Naturalization

What about unmarried women and widows? They could apply for naturalization, but in especially before the 1900s, they sometimes didn’t if they had no property. They could not vote and the law didn’t always treat them equally. They saw little benefit in investing the funds and time in applying for citizenship.

It’s fascinating how much we can learn as family historians about the status of women by the way they were handled in the records we research. The history of women in naturalization records reminds us to look past the paperwork to the reasons and intentions behind it. Unless we really understand the history of the laws and the culture at that time, we can’t be sure that we have exhausted all of the options.

 

 

 

 

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A New Place to Look for Your Immigrant Ancestor’s Passenger List

By S.MacMillen (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Monument to Scottish Immigrants, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By S.MacMillen (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Been looking for an immigrant ancestor to the United States? See if they’re among the nearly 3 million passengers to Boston or the nearly 850,000 passengers to Philadelphia recently added to FamilySearch.org.

The time period covered by these indexes includes an enormous wave of immigrants, mostly from southern and Eastern Europe. Italians, Portuguese, Russians (including Jews), Poles, Slavs and more entered the U.S. by the millions. Record content varies, but may include ports of departure and entry, age, birthplace, gender, marital status, occupation, citizenship or last country of resident, contact information for loved ones in the Old World or in the U.S., intended destination, and even a physical description. Images of the actual record can be viewed.

Also new at FamilySearch are nearly 1.5 million indexed records from the Mexico, Distrito Federal, Civil Registration, 1832-2005, collection and over half a million indexed records from the Hungary Catholic Church Records, 1636-1895, collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at FamilySearch.org.

Collection

Indexed Records

Digital Images

Comments

England, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Parish Registers, 1603-1910 35,896 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg, Eberswalde, City Directories, 1890-1919 0 2,836 New browsable image collection.
Hungary Catholic Church Records, 1636-1895 572,243 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
Mexico, Distrito Federal, Civil Registration, 1832-2005 1,452,770 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
Netherlands, Limburg Province, Church Records, 1542-1910 0 131,396 New browsable image collection.
Russia, Samara Church Books, 1869-1917 88,149 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
Ukraine, Kyiv Orthodox Consistory Church Book Duplicates, 1840-1845 129,110 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
U.S., Florida, Marriages, 1830-1993 1,012,025 720,622 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.
U.S., Iowa, State Census, 1905 1,445,414 0 New indexed record collection.
U.S., Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943 2,829,077 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
U.S., Massachusetts, State Vital Records, 1841-1920 755,766 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
U.S., Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1883-1945 874,690 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
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Brazil Immigration Cards Among New Finds At FamilySearch.org

brazil_flag_perspective_anim_300_clr_3734Nearly a million indexed records and images in the Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Immigration Cards, 1900-1965, collection are among newly-posted data in FamilySearch’s ever-growing free digital archive. The cards were issued by Brazilian consulates around the world and presented upon arrival in Brazil by visitors and immigrants. They contain the immigrant’s name, where he or she came from, the date and place of birth, and the parents’ names.

This is a pretty significant time period for Brazilian immigration.  Brazil’s population was about 17.4 million in 1900–and it nearly doubled in the following two decades. By 1940, Brazil housed over 41 million people, and by 1960, over 70 million.

Most immigrants to Brazil since slavery was abolished in 1888 came from Italy, most significantly the areas of Vêneto, Campânia, Calabria, and Lombárdia. Germany and Japan sent their share of immigrants, too.

That’s not all that’s new on FamilySearch, though. Check out these other indexed and imaged records:

Collection Indexed Records Digital Images Comments
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Immigration Cards, 1900–1965 334,188 615,026 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.
Canada Census, 1911 1,227,603 0 New indexed record collection.
Canada, Ontario, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826–1989 96,228 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
England, Cheshire Non-conformist Records, 1671–1900 14,673 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
Hungary, Civil Registration, 1895–1980 0 40,475 Added images to an existing collection.
Indonesia, Jawa Tengah, Kebumen, Naturalization Records, 1951–2013 0 14,330 Added images to an existing collection.
Indonesia, Jawa Tengah, Wonogiri District Court Records, 1925–2013 0 137,465 Added images to an existing collection.
Italy, Trieste, Trieste, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1924–1939 0 97,505 Added images to an existing collection.
U.S., Indiana, Marriages, 1811–1959 468,724 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
U.S., Louisiana, New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820–1945 51,232 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
U.S., North Carolina, Wilmington and Morehead City Passenger and Crew Lists, 1908–1958 88,345 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
United States Public Records Index 132,330,416 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
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Over a Million Newly Indexed Canadian Passenger Lists Now Available

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Mixed group of immigrants, Quebec, ca 1911. Photo by William James Topley, Library and Archives Canada, PA-010270. Some rights reserved.

Over a million indexed records and images for Canadian passenger lists (1881-1922) are among newly-announced records now searchable at FamilySearch.org.

The database includes records for Canadian ports–Quebec City, Halifax, St. John, North Sydney, Vancouver and Victoria–as well as U.S. ports for passengers who reported Canada as their final destination.

Before this time period, travel between the U.S. and Canada was common. But it was not always officially recorded because there were no border crossing stations on land. During the time period covered by these records, nations on both sides of the border became concerned about the impact of this invisible migration. Official border crossing record-keeping began in 1895. (See a database at Ancestry.com).

Here’s a tip: If you have immigrant ancestors who landed in the United States during this era but you haven’t found their passenger records, consider the possibility that they arrived via Canada. They would have avoided the increasingly strict monitors at the port gates of entry to the U.S. “golden door.”

Here’s a full list of recent updates to FamilySearch.org:

Collection

Indexed Records

Digital Images

Comments

Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981 539,210 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
Argentina, Capital Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1737-1977 682,002 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
BillionGraves Index 407,422 407,422 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.
Canada Passenger Lists, 1881-1922 1,673,051 61,099 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.
Denmark, Church Records, 1484-1941 0 2,399,826 New browsable image collection.
Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg, Landkreis Ostprignitz-Ruppin, Miscellaneous Records, 1559-1945 0 9,569 New browsable image collection.
Italy, Campobasso, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1918 0 2,171,641 New browsable image collection.
Italy, Napoli, Fontana, Parrocchia di Santa Maria della Mercede – La Sacra, Catholic Church Records, 1659-1929 0 54 Added images to an existing collection.
U.S., Illinois, Northern District (Eastern Division), Naturalization Index, 1926-1979 0 214,094 Added images to an existing collection.
U.S., Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994 980,427 951 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.

 

 

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Navigate this Cool Free Tool that Lets You Explore U.S. Immigration Settlement Patterns

Do you ever wonder why your immigrant ancestors to the U.S. settled in a particular location, especially if it wasn’t the port city they landed in? The New York Times website has a tool that may shed light on your question.

This very cool interactive map displays the settlement patterns of U.S immigrants by nationality since 1880. As you can see from the screen shot below, you can click on ten-year increments to see how things stood at one point in time, or click across several to see how settlement patterns changed.

immigration 1

You can also click on several individual countries for more specific data, as you see here:

immigration 2

Of course, you may still be scratching your head about WHY your folks went a particular place. But if you see they were part of a larger settlement of Poles in the Pittsburgh region in the early 1900s, for example, you’ll know to look for regional and ethnic histories that can give you more “backstory.” You may also discover that they were a definite minority in their new hometown, which hints at a different kind of immigrant experience. In the quest to understanding our immigrant ancestors’ experiences, every clue helps!

You can learn more about another terrific immigration resource by listening to the free Genealogy_Gems_PodcastGenealogy Gems Podcast episode 120. Noted author Steve Luxenberg (Annie’s Ghosts) shares a free online tool that he used to help solve his own family history mystery!

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You May Only Have Half of Your British Ancestor’s Immigration Story

If you have found the passenger list for your British ancestor in the Ellis Island database, you’ve only gotten your hands on part of the story. There are outgoing passenger lists from the UK to the US available and www.Findmypast.com has added them to their offerings.

Findmypast has announced the expansion of its U.S. records to include World War I Draft cards and outgoing passenger lists from the UK to United States, among others.

Findmypast.com has also made news recently with the announcement of a new partnership with Federation of Genealogical Societies to preserve and digitize local U.S. records from genealogical societies around the country including newspapers and obituaries, bible records, cemetery records and birth, marriage and death records.

New records that have been added or will be added during 2012 include:

·        World War I Draft Cards

·        Outbound UK Passenger Lists (BT27)

·        Genealogical society materials

·        1940 Census records

The new records join nearly 1,000 existing unique and international record collections including:

·        England Royal Household Records

·        Most complete England, Wales and Scotland census collection available online

·        British Army service records

·        Unique Irish prison and court records

·        Irish military and rebellion records

·        Millions more records and specialist records that cannot be found anywhere else and many sets dating back to 1200 AD

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FamilySearch Volunteer Opportunity: US Immigration & Naturalization Genealogy Project

The following was announced today by FamilySearch:

More than 160,000 volunteer indexers made the 1940 U.S. Census available for searching in just five months. The project was an unprecedented success that dramatically illustrated what the genealogical community can accomplish when united in a common cause.

Now many volunteers are turning their attention to the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Community Project, an indexing effort to make passenger lists, naturalization records, and other immigration related records freely searchable online. Hundreds of thousands of North American volunteers are expected to contribute over the next 18-24 months, focusing initially on passenger lists from the major US ports.

Individuals, societies and other groups that want to participate should visit familysearch.org/immigration to learn more.

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