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Friday, July 24, 2009

Naturalization Papers Can be Wrong re Dates of Arrival, etc

Jerry asked:
I have my grandfather's complete Naturalization Papers which gives the date and ship name he arrived on in New York City Harbor in 1902. However, when I contacted NARA regarding locating my grandfather's name on the manifest, they wrote back saying his name does not appear.

I understand that some people worked as a crew member in return for free passage which may have been the case with my grandfather but shouldn't his name still be included on the manifest? I'm truly confused on this issue. Any share information most greatly appreciated.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Jerry. It's great that you have your grandfather's Naturalization Papers! However depending on the year he naturalized, the dates and ship name may be incorrect. Before 1906 there was no requirement that a petitioner's statements be verified. So the forms were filled out based on memory, and that could be very faulty. The petiioner might be out by several years or might mis-remember the name of the ship he/she was on.

As well, even after 1906, the Declarations of Intent could be incorrect, for it was not verified. Only the petition was verified to an actual arrival record. You may want to read more about these post 1906 Naturalization Records if that is when your grandfather naturalized.

If I were you I would search online and see what, if anything, you can find on the ships passenger lists records on as they are the most complete (and indexed). As far as I know, crew members names were not recorded on the passenger manifest. But don't get stuck on 1902 as the firm year of immigration, allow a couple of years on either side.

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