The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Starting US Immigration and Naturalization Records

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series US Immigration & Naturalization Records
The naturalization of foreigners in New York City - Judge McCunn sitting in the Superior Court, passing on applications for citizenship, Friday evening, October 22, 1869. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3c21666/

The naturalization of foreigners in New York City – Judge McCunn sitting in the Superior Court, passing on applications for citizenship, Friday evening, October 22, 1869. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3c21666/

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

If you live in the United States it is a good chance that you or your family came here from somewhere else. People from all over the world have immigrated to the United States in its 239 year existence making us truly a nation of immigrants. However, for genealogists, learning about those brave souls who traveled here, many times under desperate circumstances, can be the bane of our existence. Why, oh why, couldn’t they just once put down the town they came from!

The course I am taking now  is United States: Immigration and Naturalization Records, which hopefully will help me locate my elusive immigrant ancestry along the way. Or at least I can hope, right?

Looking through the syllabus there appears to be a lot of great information covered. A weakness for me is immigration after 1870. The reason? Well, that is when the last of my and my husband’s ancestors came to the US. Due to that fact I have not invested a lot of time in learning about 20th and 21st century immigration and naturalization.  It will take all I have to pay extra attention in those instances but the knowledge will help me I am sure.

While the course seems to be centered on those of European descent I am hopefull that the section which covers the US laws will still be of interest to others. I mean, everyone who wants to immigrate goes through the same process no matter if they are from Europe or Asia.

The section on naturalization records will be interesting. I don’t know about you, but there are times I struggle to remember which law went into effect when for this topic. It seems for the first hundred years of our country there was a new way to do things every decade. I wonder how the people immigrating here kept up!  This could be a great reason to make a timeline or flow chart!

So it is off to another course!  See you online!

Immigrant Origins

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series US Immigration & Naturalization Records
Group of emigrants (women and children) from eastern Europe on deck of the S.S. Amsterdam. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/91482252/resource/

Group of emigrants (women and children) from eastern Europe on deck of the S.S. Amsterdam. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/91482252/resource/

 

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

Oh Module 2, you are my savior! Yes, in this module we delved into strategies for locating those pesky immigrant ancestor’s origins. Now, did it personally help me? No, not yet. I do hold out hope though that this module laid the groundwork for successful future research.

Frequently, it may be said that  these courses pack a lot of information into a short amount of pages. I felt it was particularly helpful that this module was broken into 3 sections:

  • Only the country of origin is known
  • Only the county, district, or region of origin in known
  • Specific place of origin  is known

Seeing as all of my family fall into section 1, I studied the other sections for that day when I have a break through!

In each section the instructor walked us through how to work with the information we have. He talked about clues we could use to find more information. Also listing many resources to research to determine if there are any hidden gems out there. There is even discussion on using foreign record sets when applicable. Unfortunately, you have to know the place name for your ancestor before that is a viable option in most cases.

In section 2 PERSI was brought up.  PERSI, or the Periodical Source Index, is a great tool and I was excited to see it brought up in this course.  If you have never heard of PERSI, the  Family Search wiki has a great entry on it. Created by the staff from the Allen County Public Library Foundation and their Genealogy Center, PERSI is fast becoming a great research tool for genealogists.

PERSI is a subject index of articles that are of interest to genealogists.  Just as a warning, it is NOT an every name or every word index. For my own research, PERSI has lead me to some great articles not only about my family but also the areas they were from. For immigration and naturalization purposes the instructor suggests we use PERSI to look to titles of articles concerning our surnames and the county names our ancestors are from. Then we can retrieve the articles and determine if they hold information for us. Warning, it is such a great tool you can lose hours there.

The next two modules will cover an ancestor’s immigration, border crossings, and emigration records.  Lots of good information I am sure!

See you online!

 

Passports and the Immigrant

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series US Immigration & Naturalization Records
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications: Chicago, New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle, 1914-1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier 1246000 / MLR Number A1 535; Box #: 4161; Volume #: 1via Ancestry.com

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; Passport Applications: Chicago,
New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco and Seattle, 1914-1925; Collection Number: ARC Identifier
1246000 / MLR Number A1 535; Box #: 4161; Volume #: 1 via Ancestry.com

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!

Societies and Immigrants

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series US Immigration & Naturalization Records
Opening night, Masonic May Festival, Washington, May 23, [19]06. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/pan.6a34800/

Opening night, Masonic May Festival, Washington, May 23, [19]06. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/pan.6a34800/

By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student

I am a member of a fraternity. No, seriously.  While it may not be as impressive as some of the fraternal orders our ancestors were a part of I am super proud to be a member of a professional fraternity. Best part, these types of organizations keep records. Which is what the last module of the course US Immigration and Naturalization Records taught us.

Module 6 was on the subject of ethnic sources, societies, and newspapers. Once again, I felt left out since it didn’t directly affect my personal story, but the information was very enthralling. I honestly had no idea about many of the sources discussed or the groups that were active in  different ethnic communities. In the future I am sure this information will help me with research into other people’s lineages.

The majority of the chapter was about societies. I liked that our instructor broke them up by the type of society. The sections were: fraternal, ethnic, and charitable. While many people belong to several different types of societies, I thought it was important to note that there was not a standard way they all functioned. Each was formed for a different reason, with a different mission statement, and different entry rules. That being said I did not know so many of them kept such extensive records.

The one I knew kept great records was the Free Masons. I have ancestors who were Free Masons and have worked on locating those records. No luck yet on getting them, but one day I will.

There were a number of Irish ethnic societies. I would guess that is because of the large number of Irish who settled in the United States. Also, many of the charitable societies were also Irish based.  The records available from these groups would be amazing for any genealogist who can find their ancestors among their rolls. Particularly the member biographies that were often written.

I was impressed with the course and learned a lot more about these types of records than I thought I would.  Once again, you never know where you will pick up a new tip. Good luck researching your ancestors and see you online!

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