By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student
Ok, I am chugging right along through the US Immigration and Naturalization Records course and modules 3 and 4 were very cool. Module 4 was a lot of new material for me, particularly since I have not spent a lot of time learning about Canadian border crossings. No one in my family (that I have found) ever came through Canada. My husband however is a different story. His great-grandparents nearly starved to death (according to his mother) trying to farm in Alberta from 1920-1922 before going on to Washington state to settle.
While that was very interesting I was fascinated to read about the US passport regulations. Nowadays we take it for granted that if you want to leave the country you need to get a passport. It is a very simple process, and they are handy forms of government identification. I did not realize that this was not the law until 1941.
Personally, I think passport applications are an underused resource for genealogists and should be used a heck of a lot more. Especially if you know your ancestor traveled a lot, either for fun or for business. I learned this last year when I helped a friend start her genealogy journey. Her great-grandfather traveled back and forth to Central America for work and the information on his application actually broke down a huge brick wall on where her family came from. She learned that his father was born in Scotland and what his name was!
The last section of the module was on ports of emigration. One day I am sure they will come in handy for me, as soon as I figure out where those pesky ancestors came from. I did not realize how many ports still have a significant amount of records. With all of the destruction from World War I and World War II. I know that many places have no records left. Needless to say it gives me hope!
Next time I will be talking about the last modules of the course. Should be interesting since one of the subjects will be on fraternal orders. See you online!