Thursday, September 2, 2010

Checking out the Immigration Collection announced yesterday that they have added or updated several databases to their Immigration collection, and that the entire collection is available for FREE access through 6 September 2010 (see here for the press release). The major additions include:

* The Ellis Island Oral Histories, a collection of more than 1,700 recorded oral histories from immigrants who arrived in the United States through Ellis Island. This database will always be free on

* Added nearly 2 million new U.S. naturalization record indexes, thanks to the World Archives Project. The indexes span 11 states (AK, CA, CT, HI, LA, ME, MT, NY, PA, TN, WA).

* Added nearly 2 million records documenting crew members on ships who arrived in the port of Boston. The records were added to an existing collection of over 3.8 million records from Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943.

To honor our nation's immigrant heritage, opened up its entire U.S. Immigration Collection so that it can be searched free through Labor Day. To begin exploring your family's journey to America, visit

Okay, sounded good. I'm especially interested in the Naturalization Records for Southern California, since several of my society colleagues have been looking for their ancestors who naturalized here.

The top of the special Immigration Collection page looks like this:

I put Last Name = "seaver" and picked "San Diego County, California" in order to narrow the search.

Further down the page is an interesting timeline - the user can use the "magic hand" feature to advance it one way or another:

Over on the right-hand sidebar are links to articles and research tips. There was a link for a slide show about the Ellis Island experience, which was 14 slides with limited explanations, but it was interesting:

Back to my search for Seaver persons naturalized in Southern California. I received 151 matches for my query - here's the top of the page:

I clicked on the entry for William Seaver (the fifth one down) so as to see what information is provided. Here is the image:

For William Seaver, it says:

* Applicant = Seaver, William
* Native Country = Ireland
* I (intentions) A (application) = I
* Date = 12 - 3 - 1888 (I)
* Record Vol. = 25
* Record Page = 145

The source citation for this particular database is listed over on the right sidebar. It says:

" National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Naturalization Index of the Superior Court for Los Angeles County, California, 1852-1915 (M1608); Microfilm serial: M1608; Microfilm roll: 1."

This particular record is an index item, meaning that the microfilm serial number and roll noted in the source above are for the index entry, not for the original record.

The description page for this database explains the naturalization process and how to obtain the original naturalization record. The page notes that:

"Because this database only contains indexes, you will need to order a copy of the original paperwork from the National Archives. The regional offices of the National Archives most often are the repository where the records are now located. In some cases the original records may be available on microfilm at the Archives in Washington, D.C. See below for addresses of where to request copies of original documents. This index will give you the information you need to obtain the copy of the original paperwork. It is always best to provide the Archives as much information as possible when requesting a record."

For this particular record, the National Archives branch where the record is stored is probably at:
br>"National Archives – Pacific Alaska Region (Riverside)
23123 Cajalco Road
Perris, CA 92570
Phone: (951) 956-2000

William Seaver in the above example is not my ancestor or a close relative. However, I am interested in every person with a Seaver surname, and this information might aid another researcher who is a descendant of William Seaver.

If you do not have an subscription, this free period through 6 September is an excellent opportunity to explore the collection for your relatives and ancestors.

1 comment:

Geolover said...

It should be noted that vast numbers of naturalizations took place through County Courts. None of these records are available on