Hilary Henkin <hilary@...>
You mentioned that your "great-grandfather had his certificate of arrival
with his naturalization papers so everything matched up, but he listed his
wife's arrival incorrectly as he did not have to prove her arrival."
Contrary to common assumption, the Certificate of Arrival was *not* issued
at the time of arrival. It was issued after the Declaration of Intention
was filed, confirming that the potential citizen had indeed arrived when
he or she stated, and had been in the US more than the minimum years
required. It means that a clerk looked at the Declaration of Intention,
and used that information to find the original passenger manifest. He or
she reviewed the manifest, found the individual, and confirmed the
information presented was correct. (This is also why sometimes people
find Certificate of Arrival numbers written on a passenger manifest)
The Certificate of Arrival was filed with the Declaration and the ensuing
Petition of Naturalization. It wasn't luck - it was bureaucracy.
I suspect the 1906 date you mentioned is because that's when the US
government standardized the naturalization process. Before then, the
process was left up to the individual courts.