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Friday, August 21, 2009

Newcomer Asks Question about Immigration Inconsistencies

Genevieve asked:
Based on info from the 1930 census, I've searched's access to immigration records for my grandparents. When I find one that matches year of arrival, age doesn't match. If I find one for age, marital status might not match. Is there anyway to check complete birth date or spouses name (if they traveled separately) to ensure I have the right person? Thanks for considering my questions. I'm new at this, but having so much fun learning.

Olive Tree Answer: Hello Genevieve, I know you had 3 questions but I"m only going to deal with one in this post. Your questions are very good, and it's really nice to see a newcomer thinking about the records and what the data means.

First, don't pin too much weight on an immigration year given in a census record. It is one of the most MIS-remembered years of all, and you should always look a couple of years on either side of any date given. The same is true for birth years - these can be off by several years on either side, and you will find inconsistencies even from one census year to the next.

You might want to also check naturalization records if your grandparents naturalized. Depending when they arrived in the country, their naturalization papers may have been verified and matched to an actual ships passenger list. See for more help understanding (and finding) naturalization records as they are a very good source of information to help you find that immigration record. Also has Naturalization Recordsicon from NARA

You can also find more immigration and citizenship dates in other census years. The 1900, 1910 ,1920 and 1930 census identify citizenship
status, with notations showing the individual was an Alien, or had started the Naturalization process or had his final papers. These are great clues to help narrow the time frame for finding the records! I like for census records, but you may have another favourite place to search those records.

As for checking other facts from the ship manifest, that is not possible. Whatever is recorded on the manifest is all that there is. Depending when the individual(s) arrived, the data on will differ, with some years being far more detailed than others. You didn't give me your grandparents' names or ethnic origin or approximate year of arrival so I can't be very specific in trying to help you but I hope this answer will lead you to other clues.

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