Re: US immigration records in early 19th century #usa

David Oseas

For the most part, Ancestry has only index records.  FamilySearch has images of naturalization documents, but many are not indexed yet.  First try FamilySearch's indexes to see if you can easily locate the documents.

If they are not indexed, don't despair: with the information provided by Ancestry and a bit of detective work, you can usually locate them.

I recently went through the same process for a relative & I'll walk you through the steps, using her naturalization as an example. My relative was Ida Schechter (b. 1890), naturalized 29 Jun 1943 in Eastern District Ct of NY ( ).

From the Ancestry data, you will need to determine which court your relative naturalized in.  Depending on the collection, this may be included as field, provided in the source citation, or may be in the name of the collection itself.  In Ida's case, the data appears both as a data field and in the source citation: Eastern District Ct of NY.

If an image exists for the Ancestry index record, examine it:  depending on when/where the naturalization happened, you may need the date and/or the petition number and/or volume & page number.  These pieces of information are usually not captured in Ancestry's indexing.  In Ida's case, her petition number is 370911.  If you are looking for a declaration (ie, initial papers, not final papers), the process will work the same way, but you record the info about the declaration, not the petition.

Now go to the FamilySeach catalog ( ) and do a keyword search. Enter the name and type of the court, followed by either "naturalization" or "petition" (for declarations, use "declaration") without quotations.  In this example, we will search for "New York Eastern District Petition".

You may need to experiment with both words to see which brings up the appropriate collections.  Note that there may be several collections returned, usually a mixture of index-only and ones with full records, and usually for different time periods.

In my example, 16 search results are returned.  However, from the description, we can see that the collection that includes the full records is "Final petition and citizenship papers (New York), 1865-1958".  Next, we need to look at the details of this collection ( ).  For this collection, we locate the roll of film (digitized images) that contain Ida's petition #370911, which is "Naturalization records, (cert. no. 370587-371100) 19-24 Feb 1943" (FHL 2394797, DGS 007778077).  Do not be confused by FamilySearch's use of the term "cert." here, this is actually the petition number (I've asked them several times to correct their catalog terminology).  Also, note that the date on the index card was the date of admission, not the date of the petition and occurs sometime later.  Take note if the roll contains multiple items, and if so, which item contains the desired record.

Now we click on the camera icon to enter the image browser to view the film.  Since this roll only contains one item, we start at the beginning.  Otherwise, we would first need to locate the start of the item within the roll. 

Examine a few of the first documents to see what is included.  In this case, there is a copy of the Certificate of Arrival (CofA), plus the petition, front and back, so there are approximately 3 images per document.  Other collections may also include copies of the declaration, while others may omit the CofA.  Examine one of the petitions to see the petition number stamped on it -- I tend to use the image in the upper right hand corner, which is image #10; in this case, the next image (#11) contains petition #370588.  Do the math to determine which image number is going to be close to where we want:  #370911 - #370588 = 323 petitions * 3 images/petition = 969 images; we are starting on image 11, so we want to go to image 980.  The math will frequently be off, since some records may be missing pages or have additional pages, or may have been filmed more than once.

You can do the math from where you end up to get closer, or simply browse to the desired image.  In my case, images 1167-1169 ( ) contain the petition that I was looking for.

Hope this helps you (and others) in your search.

David Oseas

KLEIN: Satoraljaujhely (Ujhely), Hungary > New York > Los Angeles
OSEAS/OSIAS/OSIASI/OZIAS: Iasi, Romania > Chicago > Milwaukee > Los Angeles
SCHECHTER/SHEKTER: Kishinev, Bessarabia > New York  
SHERMAN: Iasi, Romania > New York > Los Angeles
STECKER: New York > Florida
STRUL:  Iasi, Romania > Haifa, Israel
WICHMAN: Syczkowo (Bobruisk), Belarus > Milwaukee > Los Angeles

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