Friday, October 26, 2012

Ancestor Citizenship and the Law, Part I

Australian War Brides
Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor
When did your ancestor become naturalized? Where is the certificate? Family researchers must be familiar with laws, acts and regulations before launching a full ancestral search. The path to citizenship has taken various courses throughout history based on laws, regulations and politics.

Derivative Citizenship
Fact: Not all of our ancestors received a Certificate of Citizenship.
As early as the first Naturalization Act of 1790 foreign born minor children became US citizens through their parents’ naturalization.  This derivative citizenship path did not require the issuance of a Certificate of Citizenship to the minor. So your ancestor, if they entered the USA as a minor, would have become citizens via their parent’s naturalization but not necessarily been named on the Certificate.  This process continued through August 1906.the Certificate.  This process continued through August 1906.

After Sept. 1906, minor children were listed on their parents’ Certificates of Citizenship, but were not issued their own certificates.  Note that the federal government became the custodian of naturalizations after that date resulting in a more uniformed issuance of citizenship and requirements.

The Immigration Act of 1924 established limited European immigration and banned Asian  immigration to the USA. This quota system was not liften until 1945.

War Bride Citizenship
Have you ever wondered how your War Bride ancestor left foreign land to set up home in the USA? Take a look at the old Good Housekeeping Magazines. The magazine during the WWII era advised the War Brides on how to set up house  in USA! This publication partnered with the US Office of War Information

This was considered a needed service especially for estimated fifty thousand (up to 100k) British brides that came to the USA as new wives to WWII and Korean veterans.  About one million soldiers married foreign women from 50 different countries overseas between 1942-1952; enough to inact The War Brides Act of Dec 28, 1945 which temporarily lifted the limits on immigration. This Act allowed spouses and adopted children of military personnel to enter the United States, but they were not granted automatic citizenship. 

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Red Cross role in supporting and assistance in readying the war brides for their overseas travel. Red Cross workers even provided escort services. In additon to the British war brides there were approx. 7,000 from  France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg; , and 8,000 from Australia and New Zealand.

To search for your war bride in the USA, begin your research using the NARA, Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at the Port of NY, 1944-1948 (M1417).  Up to twenty military ships provided transport across the seas. Keep in mind that some of the brides chose airlines to America!

Copies of naturalization and citizenship certificates may be found online: see, or ordered via the website.  

Military Naturalization 
Researchers of immigrant ancestors have already learned that many veterans were naturalized while serving in WWI and WWII.  But many find it shocking that after the Sept 11 2011 attacks, immigration laws and the USCIS procedures continue to make it easy for military personnel to naturalize.  When researching your more recent immigrant ancestors, know that about 29,000 foreign born serve in the US military today and are not American citizens. Approximately 8000 permanent immigrants with green cards join the armed forces annually.  The idea is “persons serving honorably in active-duty status in the US Armed Forces at any time on or after Sept 11, can apply for citizenship, even if they have only one day of .honorable active duty service and regardless of how long they have been a US resident.”  Begin your search with the veteran’s military file: Veteran Service Records 

Canadian War Brides
Although this article is not about Canadian War Brides, I want to share with our Northern research friends that Canadian War Bride passenger lists for 1946-1947 are online at . Be sure to visit the Canadian War Brides website.

Finding Other Records
Here are a few additional searchable links:
Australia: National Archives of Australia - Leaving Brisbane:  (see mid page)
British: Indexed files searchable by surname at Warbrides UK 

Be sure to also visit: Female Ancestor Citizenship Confusion.

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Identifying Revolutionary War Era Parents

-->Five Basics Steps
Beating The “Now What?” Syndrome

In genealogy research where each region has records reflecting its community and where each era and generation of records evolve, we are reminded daily that historical record searching is never static.  Yet, there are still some basic guidelines to follow. Here is a sample of my strategy for identifying Revolutionary War Era parentage.  It’s simple, but it puts me back in action when I’m paralyzed with the “Now What?” Syndrome.  

1) Land Inheritance. One way to prove parentage is to prove land inheritance.  These records can show when and where the land was probated and to whom.  Often the eldest son, if not a minor, inherited the land.  However, the land could also be left to the wife.  In the interest of minor children, names may be revealed showing kinship. Records can also show the relationship of siblings or other family members.

2)  Church Records. During the Revolutionary War Era churches kept a lot of family records to include children baptism, christening, marriage banns, and licenses.  You are doing a disservice if you haven’t researched these genealogical gems.

3) Guardianship. Mothers were not usually granted guardianship of their minor children during the Revolutionary War Era, but if they did, it usually was through the court system. So a guardianship record should be available for any minors.  These records would list minor heirs and guardians and maybe even other inventory and probated information. 

4) Newspapers. Don’t forget old newspapers. Sure they usually aren’t indexed, but you may get lucky with a local library or State Archive.  Some of these repositories (like both the Mo. State Archives and the Kansas Historical Society), may have a surname index in their card catalog.  Don’t underestimate the holdings at these repositories. At minimum, old newspapers are often preserved on microfilm at these repositories.  What a great way to spend a bad climate day!

5)  Cluster Analysis. To show direct lineage there may not be a direct line. Keep alternatives in mind.  For example by tracing a sibling and proving the brother-hood connection you could be lead back to the parents.  Through an official printed biography on a sibling, you may find parents and siblings listed together. Don’t forget to keep your research open to include family clusters and friends.  Through these relationships you may be able to prove parentage.

There’s so much more you can do for this era to find parent names.  But the idea is to get back into action.  More in depth analysis of migratory clusters, especially after 1830, can lead you back to the home record source.  Keep that in mind when looking at census records.  I always write down information on 10-20 family names living around the direct line.  This technique can lead to married names of the women and even tips on recovering maiden names.  But that is another blog. 

Happy searching for today!

Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist

Originally posted 5 Aug. 2010

Sunday, October 14, 2012

IMDB - Genealogy and History As Seen On TV

Check out the IMDb page of Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cherokee Female Seminary

Acculturation and Assimilation via Education
Last month I attended Kansas City Mo Public Library exhibit of Our People, Our Land, Our Images. It was there that I saw the plaque on the wall referencing the Cherokee Female Seminary graduating class of 1902. An accompanying photo was provided by Jennie Ross Cobb (Cherokee). As family researchers we are always looking for early Native American Ancestors, especially women, and I found the history of the Cherokee Female Seminary to be helpful for a recent project. Of course female seminaries were as popular as boarding schools by the 19th century and many have preserved genealogy-filled records.

Seminary History
On 7 May 1851 the Cherokee Nation opened the female Seminary in Park Hill Mission (OK), making it “among the first educational systems built west of the Mississippi-Indian or non-Indian. In fact, for a period of time during the mid-nineteenth century, the Cherokee population was more literate than the neighboring non-Indian population” according to Wilma Mankiller, the first female Cherokee Nation chief. From 1851 to the close of the American Civil War the school was in operation. During the Civil war the seminary was used as a warehouse, hospital, etc and it took until 1870 to ready the seminary once again to accept students.  Then after Oklahoma statehood, the land and building was purchased for forty thousand dollars to be converted to the Northeastern Normal School.

The seminary was modeled after the Mount Holyoke Seminary in Worcester MA and was established by the Cherokee Nation, not the Federal Government or Missionaries.  Not only was the Mt. Holyoke Seminary curriculum adopted, many of the teachers were graduates from Mt. Holyoke Seminary; others were from Yale and Newton Theological Seminary. Free tours of Seminary Hall are offered by the Cherokee Nation , but keep in mind this is not the original structure of Park Hill Mission, as it was destroyed by fire in 1887.

Cherokee Male Seminary
Please note there was also a Male Seminary. It too was burnt down in 1910, but was never reconstructed. However, through biographies and obituaries, you may find more information on  your Cherokee ancestor.  The Cherokee Nation site even mentions a few who attended like Dr. C. M. Ross. Hew was the Medical Superintendent, was born in Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, December 17, 1868. He is the grandson of the chief, John Ross. He was educated at the Cherokee Male Seminary from which institution he was graduated in 1887.

Did My Ancestor Attend?
It is said that students, elementary from high school, were “acculturated Cherokees, many of them already familiar with “White ways,” the majority being mixed blood Cherokees. According to the Mt. Holyoke records, full and mixed blood Cherokees were eligible to attend, but the school did not offer courses in Cherokee language, history, or culture. Acculturation and assimilation into the “white” society was ideal. Out of the 3000 girls who attended the Seminary only 212 graduated; the last graduating class being 1910.

How to Research
The best place to being this research is at the Oklahoma Historical Society website. Here the researcher can locate school records from 1874-1909, photos as early as 1860 and original manuscripts. .

For More Information

Elzie Ronald Caywood, "The History of Northeastern State College" M.A. thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1950.
Brad Agnew, "Legacy of Education: The History of the Cherokee Seminaries," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 63 (Summer 1985).
Cherokee National Female Seminary, An Illustrated Souvenir Catalog of the Cherokee National Female Seminary, Tahlequah, Indian Territory, 1850-1906 (Chilocco, Okla.: Indian Print Shop, [abt 1906]
Ellen Goodale, Ellen Rebecca (Whitmore), Journal of Ellen Whitmore, ed. Lola Garrett Bowers and Kathleen Garrett (Tahlequah, Okla., Northeastern State College, 1953).