Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dear Genea-Man: What do those markings mean?

Dear Genea-Man,

What do the handwritten markings mean on this passenger list? I'm interested in Alfred Wm. Wilson, line #16 on this list. There is a number 7-185009 and a date 10/24/41 marked on his line.

ANSWER: Genea-Man is not very experienced with passenger lists and naturalization records, but he has a very informative book on the subject.

Looking at the book "They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins" there is a section on page 161 about Certificates of Arrival. It says:

"Probably the most common reentry annotations are related to an immigrant's first step toward naturalization. Verifying that all petitioners for naturalization were legally admitted immigrants was one of the reforms instituted by the Basic Naturalization Act of 1906. Smith further notes that

" 'under the 1906 statute, the naturalization procedure required a step whereby the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization checked ship manifests to verify the legal admission of every applicant for citizenship who had Declarations of Intention or Petitions to a naturalization court. On these forms, the immigrant named the port, date and ship of his or her arrival. Copies of the form were forwarded to the appropriate ports of entry to be checked by verification clerks who located the immigrants arrival record among their immigration manifests. If the record was found, INS issued a Certificate of Arrival and sent it back to the naturalization court.'

"Between 1906 and 1924, the certificate of arrival was a critical identifying factor connecting the immigrant to the port of arrival. Beginning 1 July 1924, the INS began collecting immigrant visas, which subsequently became the official arrival records. One could not be admitted without an immigrant visa, and only a permanent admission could be used to issue a Certificate of Arrival, which would support a naturalization. According to INS historian Smith, an immigrant visa leads to permanent admission, which leads to a certificate of arrival, which leads to naturalization. The alien's immigrant visa file then became the first place to search for proof of legal entry into the United States."

The above was obtained from
Loretta Dennis Szucs, "They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins," Ancestry Inc., 1998, page 161.
The passenger list image was obtained from
Manifest, S.S. Majestic, 25 November 1908, page 11, line 16, for Alfred Wm. Wilson (age 2), digital image, New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. Original data: Year: 1908; Microfilm serial: T715; Microfilm roll: T715_1174; Image 11, Line: 16 (, accessed 5 December 2007).

Consequently, I think that there is an excellent chance that Alfred Wm. Wilson's Certificate of Arrival was number 7-185009, and that it was signed on 24 October 1941. There is probably a naturalization record for him (and his parents) in a court house someplace near where he lived in the 1940's.

What say you? Did I get this right?

This is a good lesson for all of us who haven't done much immigration and naturalization research. I learned something! Maybe I'll learn more from more experienced researchers. I'm going to use this as a show and tell at the next CVGS Research Group meeting.

UPDATED 12/8, 9 PM: Pete Small had helpful suggestions in Comments, viz.

"Passenger Lists were micro-filmed 1942/43. A researcher will not find annotations for an ancestor who began the Naturalization process after these years.

"Verification clerks began to record Verification & Certification activities on Passenger Lists in 1926. All annotations refer to Naturalization activities that occurred in 1926 or later.

"You can find much more than you probably need to know at:"
Thanks, Pete!

1 comment:

Steve Danko said...

Hi Randy,

Yes, you got it right! I've written about annotations on passenger manifests twice, so you can check out these two posts for more details.