Thursday, June 28, 2012

Answer to 1940 Census Question

Answer: It means the person was a veteran of both the World War (WWI) and the Spanish American War.

See the previous post for the answer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This Week's 1940 Census Question

Here's a 1940 Census question to test your knowledge:  What does "SW" mean in response to the question concerning war or military service?

Check the next post for the answer.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Naturalization Records

Becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States was a huge event in the lives of our ancestors. Naturalization certificates were prized possessions. They were often proudly displayed in frames hung on parlor walls. If you are lucky, you have one of those certificates in your possession that was granted to one of your immigrant ancestors. You would be fortunate not only because it has survived in your family through the years, but because it is the product of a “minority event;” that is, most immigrants did not become naturalized citizens.

If you know that your ancestor became a naturalized citizen, whether you have the naturalization certificate or not, there is considerable documentation you can get surrounding that event. The certificate itself is the end point of a process that took several years and several pieces of paper. The laws governing the process changed over the years, but in general the process consisted of three steps and four major documents.
The first step in becoming a naturalized citizen was to file a Declaration of Intention to become a citizen. This declaration was also referred to as “first papers.” The purpose was to formally renounce any allegiance to a foreign power and to declare an intention to become a citizen. This was normally completed soon after arrival in the US.
The next step was to file a Petition for Citizenship—called “second papers.” A person normally had to wait five years after previously filing the declaration before the petition could be entered. Seven years was the outside limit. After that amount of time, if no petition had been filed, the process would have to start all over again. The purposes of the petition were to confirm that the naturalization requirements had been satisfied and to request the granting of citizenship.
The next step was the signing of an Oath of Allegiance, which again renounced any allegiance to a foreign power in favor of allegiance to the United States. That was followed by the presentation of the Certificate of Naturalization.
Another document entered this process after June 1906: it was the Certificate of Arrival. After the second papers were submitted (on which the applicant stated the immigration date, port, and ship arrived on,) a verification clerk at the port of entry would locate the manifest, confirm the information, and complete the certificate of arrival. That would be sent back to the naturalization court. This step was added to the process to help prevent naturalization fraud: prevent ineligible aliens from becoming citizens and preventing more than one person from claiming the same arrival record as a basis for naturalization.
The courts played the major role in the naturalization process. Each of the submissions had to be done at a court of record. It was the court where the oath was signed, and it was the court that granted the final certificate. Not surprisingly then, any search for documentation should start at the appropriate court. Unfortunately there may be many courts involved since the process usually started under the jurisdiction of one court, and finished under the jurisdiction of another because of the movement of the applicant. The best bet is to find the court that issued the certificate, since it will have all of the earlier papers as part of its record.
The documents created during the naturalization process contain a wealth of genealogically significant information. You can discover name changes, wife’s family name, date and place of birth, occupation, immigration date and port, and names and ages of children to name just of few of the significant pieces of information. Of course, some of the documents are more information rich than others: first and second papers contain more relevant information than does the oath, for instance.
The documents also change in character over time. Early documents are mostly hand-written, contain less information than later versions, and vary from court to court. After 1906 there is more standardization through the use of pre-printed forms, and more information is called for from the applicant.  
Increasingly, naturalization records are being found on line, but that is surely the exception rather than the rule at this point (you can find some at and Another place to go for help in your search is the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Their website is You will not find online images at that site, but for a fee the USCIS will find the documents for you.
The Pinellas Genealogy Society offers a class on finding  and using naturalization records. Check the calendar page at its website for more information at

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Answer to 1940 Census Question

Answer:  That person has a circled "X" after his/her name.

See the previous post for the question.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Another 1940 Census Question

Here is another 1940 Census question for you:  How can you tell who provided the informaiton for the household?

Check the next post for the answer.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Photographic History of the US Navy

The NavSource website is a place to visit if you have ancestors who served in the US Navy. The mission of the site is stated as: "The simple goal of NavSource Naval History is the preservation of naval history, in the form of images and text, also to help former shipmates find each other by providing reunion and contact information. We also hope to help historians and researchers find information and sources not previously available through private photo collections and records donated to us by former ships personnel. We also make available to everyone public images and records found scattered in various locations Indexed in one place for easy reference."

Although the site is not endorsed by or affiliated in any way with the U.S. Navy, the Naval History & Heritage Command Center, the U.S. Government or any of its Departments, it displays an impressive collection of photos in an easily navigable format. Check it out at

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Answer to 1940 Census Question

Answer:  two.

See previous post for question.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Check Your Knowledge: 1940 Census Question

Here's a question about the 1940 census for you:

How many people maximum per side of the census form were asked the birth place of their mother and father?

Check the next post for the answer.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Record Your Data Entry Rules

Using a computer database program such as Family Tree Maker or Roots Magic certainly eases much of the effort involved in keeping relationships straight and in keeping all of our data in order. But stop to think a bit about the process you use when entering data. It is not done automatically…you have to do it, and when you do you are constantly making decisions about how you enter that data. Once you make a decision about you data entry process, you want to enter similar data in the same way every time a similar situation occurs. For instance, perhaps when you find an immigrant ancestor who arrived at New York on the ship called the New Amsterdam, you choose to enter the place information for that event as “New York, USA on the ship New Amsterdam.” I’m not saying that is how everyone should enter that information, I’m just saying if that is how you do it, then you would want to make a similar entry for all of your immigrant ancestors. But, if you are like me, you will forget that format and enter the information differently for the next immigrant. In this case I may forget that I included "USA" or that I used the word "ship" or that I italicized the name of the ship.

To prevent this inconsistent data entry, you can start a document in your word processor that records those data entry rules you set up for yourself. That way thay are all in one place and you can refer to them any time you wish. If you want, you can record them in some generally accessible place right inside of your database program. The point is, you need to record those self-imposed rules so you can be consistent through time as you enter data.

Here are some other instances where you may have made some unique data entry decisions you should record: How do you handle name changes? How do you record alternate names? How and where do you record conflicts in information between two sources? How do you record complex family relationships like illegitimacies, adoptions, non-married partners, etc. You get the idea.

Friday, June 8, 2012

WWII Cadet Nursing Corps Database Available on recently added more than 300,000 cadet nursing corp files to its military collection that may be of interest to some of you. Here is what Ancestry has to say about the collection:

"This database contains membership cards providing details on women who joined the Cadet Nurse Corps created during World War II.

"Historical Background: After the United States entered World War II, the military’s needs quickly brought on a nursing shortage. To address the need, federal funding, administered by the Public Health Service, began flowing to nursing schools in 1942, and in 1943 Congress authorized the Cadet Nurse Corps. The Corps offered scholarships for tuition and fees, stipends, and uniforms to women ages 17–35 who went to nursing school and committed to serve in the nursing profession for the duration of the war. The Corps did not discriminate on race and graduated almost 125,000 nurses.

"What’s in the Records: This database contains Cadet Nurse Corps membership cards providing details on women who joined the Corps. There are four different card forms: 300A, 300B (pre-May 1944), 300B revised, and PG 400, which recorded post-graduate information. NARA provides the following description of the forms and the information each includes: 'Form 300A is a membership card and includes the name of the cadet, serial number, name of the nursing school or hospital, address of the school, and dates attended. Form 300B (before May 1944) only identifies the cadet by serial number and includes statistical information about the cadet such as age, hometown, marital status, occupation of her father, and how she found out about the program. In May 1944, Form 300B membership card was revised to include the information that was contained in Form 300A and the previous version of Form 300B. Form PG 400 includes the name and address of the cadet and any post-graduate information such as the name of the university or hospital and what degree was earned.' ”

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Answer to 1940 Census Question

Answer:  Two.

Check back to the previous post for the question.

Monday, June 4, 2012

1940 Census Question

Here is a question for you on the 1940 census:

At maximum, how many people per side of the census form were asked 15 additional questions?

Check the next post for the answer.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Veterans History Project

The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.

The Project collects first-hand accounts of U.S. Veterans from the following wars:  World War I (1914-1920), World War II (1939-1946), Korean War (1950-1955), Vietnam War (1961-1975), Persian Gulf War (1990-1995), and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present)

In addition, those U.S. citizen civilians who were actively involved in supporting war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.) are also invited to share their valuable stories.

Stories can be told through personal narratives (audio and video-taped interviews and written memoirs, Correspondence, and visual materials like photographs, drawings, and scrapbooks.

The database is searchable. Filters exist to limit search by conflict, branch of service, POWs, and gender. You can also limit the search for just digitized entries or just transcripts. I did a casual search on the name “Smith” and filtered it by WWI and Army. One of the hits I got had no digitized material with it, but the record it it displayed for me was filled with transcribed information. Another hit had digitized correspondence, military documents like general orders, and a diary.

If you don’t have an ancestor represented in the database, you may find one of his buddies, or something about his unit. That can lead to a greater appreciation of your ancestor’s life because he went through the same things they did.

Check it out at