Feb 102012

I've received the naturalization records for my great-grandfather with his name spelled incorrectly as Angelo Palmieri and a letter of no-record-found with his name spelled correctly as Angelo Palmeri.

Recently, I sent a request to USCIS asking for a letter of "one and the same". It included all of the documents I have pertaining to him, including his birth and death and naturalization certificates.

Today I received a letter. It states that "we've confirmed that Angelo Palmieri and Angelo Palmeri born on January 27, 1886 are the same person."

Feb 072012

As I've noted on several posts, my great-grandfather was born Angelo Palmeri but several records, including his marriage certificate and his naturalization documents, spelled his name incorrectly as Angelo Palmieri. 

From the USCIS, I've received a complete copy of the naturalization documents spelled "Angelo Palmieri" and I have received a letter of no record found spelled of "Angelo Palmeri".

I wrote a letter to the USCIS asking for a letter stating that the Angelo Palmieri on the naturalization documents is a.k.a Angelo Palmeri. An earlier post gave the text of that letter.

I included draft text for a letter they might send to me:

Our letter XXXXXX XX, XXXX reported that we successfully retrieved a copy of the records of naturalization for Angelo Palmieri, born January 27, 1886 in Serradifalco, Italy.

File Series   File Number
C-File          C-XXXXX

We sent you The Declaration of Intent for Angelo Palmieri dated August 23, 1917, the Petition for Naturalization for Angelo Palmieri dated March 11, 1921, and the Certificate of Naturalization for Angelo Palmieri dated July 5, 1921.

Angelo Palmieri, born January 27, 1886 in Serradifalco, Italy was also known as (a.k.a.) Angelo Palmeri, born January 27, 1886 in Serradifalco, Italy.

It is our determination that the Declaration of Intent dated August 23, 1917, Petition for Naturalization dated March 11, 1921, and Certificate of Naturalization dated July 5, 1921 for Angelo Palmieri belong to one and the same person as the birth certificate for Angelo Palmeri from January 27, 1886 in Serradifalco, Italy, the marriage certificate for Angelo Palmieri from November 5, 1910 in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, and the death certificate for Angelo Palmeri from September 29, 1969 in Erie County, New York.

Today I had a conversation with someone from UCSIC. They said they would send me a letter. Hopefully, it will have text bearing some resemblance to the text I suggested.

Jan 152012

I have received the naturalization documents for my great-grandfather. However, the last name is misspelled "Palmieri" rather than "Palmeri" on this and several other documents I have.

Naturalization documents for deceased individuals cannot be amended. Today I am initiating a new search with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (http://www.uscis.gov/) for a letter of "no record found" for "Angelo Palmeri" with the correct spelling. I added explicit text stating that I have already received a record for "Angelo Palmieri" but I need a document that asserts that no one named "Angelo Palmeri" born 27 January 1886 in Serradifalco, Italy, has even been naturalized.

Dec 242011

My great-grandfather, Samuel Wilson, naturalization papers arrived today.

The first document is the Declaration of Intention. It states that he was of fair complexion, 5' 7", 150lbs, with auburn hair and blue eyes. He was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland on 30 Aug 1871. There is also the Petition and the Naturalization document itself.

He departed 3 Dec 1890 from Londonderry and arrived 21 Dec 1890 in New York.

He renounces his allegiance to "His Majesty George V, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India".

The Petition for Naturalization lists William Wilson and Rose Elizabeth Wilson as witnesses. Brother? Cousin?

Nov 292011

Last month, I received a letter from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service stating that no record was found of my great-grandfather's naturalization as a U.S. citizen. That started a process of doing a search of the National Archives for naturalization records, census records, and immigration records. An expensive process.

Today, I received this email: "After further review of your case we have discovered an error on our part. We actually located a certificate of naturalization file for Mr. Palmeri; I have attached a copy of the positive results letter which includes the directions on how to order the actual file. I do apologize for any inconvenience this may have cause and if you have any additional questions please feel free to contact me. Have a great day."

Of course I'm happy they actually found his record. This document proves that my great-grandfather became a naturalized U.S. citizen 10 years after my grandfather was born in the U.S. That qualifies us for dual Italian citizenship.

I'm not so happy that it cost me $150 in unnecessary NARA searches.

My great-grandfather was naturalized on 5 Jul 1921 in the Supreme Court of Buffalo, NY

Nov 022011

I've heard that some naturalizations could have occurred in county or state court 100+ years ago. Since U.S. Immigration turned up no record, this morning I emailed Armstrong county in Pennsylvania (where my great-grandfather lived and worked right after immigrating), Erie county (where he lived in Buffalo), and New York State, to see what the process would be to search for a record.

Erie County Clerk Responds:

Many of the naturalization records in our office are original records of the Supreme Court granting naturalization and as such are unique and not available at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).  The Department of Homeland Security (formerly Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS)) informs us that INS did not collect or maintain records of naturalization prior to September 26, 1906.  Therefore, the court records of naturalization in this office prior to that date are the only existing original records.   We usually certify copies of those records PRIOR TO September 26, 1906 when requested and may certify later records.

After September 26, 1906, some duplicate records may be found at the National Archives and Records Administration.  If the record is not available at the Department of Immigration’s record keeping entity ( NARA), the County Clerk has the only official file.  If the requestor provides proof in writing that the specific record is not available at NARA, the Clerk will certify copies of the Supreme or Superior Court records of naturalization.  

For clarification, if the file in the Erie County Clerk's Office is a court record, it is certified upon request.  

You may make your request to the Erie County Clerk's Office.  The request will engender a search charge. Please make your request in writing to the Erie County Clerk – Basement Record Room, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, New York 14202 and be sure to enclose an SASE and your daytime telephone number.  You may simply copy this email and mail with your check.  As a suggestion, since we will not know the actual cost until the search is completed, you may send in a check with the amount blank and a note that the check is not to exceed a certain amount.  We will return a receipt.

The cost for a search is $5 for every two years per name, per document.

The cost for copies is $1 per page and certification is an additional $5.  Based upon the year and the issuing entity, we may or may not be able to certify the documents.  Erie County Clerk

92 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

Nov 012011

Even though my great-grandfather had listed himself as "na" (naturalized) on the 1930 census, I just received a letter of "no record" from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Maybe my great-grandmother gave the information and did not know, or did not understand, or maybe they had submitted the records but never actually finalized the naturalization.

Now I need to request a certification of non-existence of a naturalzation record. Looks like I'll also need to get certified copies of the Census as well. From one of the online discussion groups, I saw that this was required:

2. if he/she never became a US citizen, you must provide a), b) and c): 
a) an Official statement issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, specifying that he/she never became a U.S. citizen. Such document must show, as confirmation, the full name with all aliases, the date and place of birth. 
b) you are also required to do an extensive search with the National Archives (www.nara.gov). The National Archives will have to provide a letter of confirmation which contains full name with all aliases, the date and place of birth. 
c) census record may provide additional information relevant to your case: Immigration Records, Naturalization Records, Ship Passenger Lists, Military records, U.S. Passport applications, Voter Lists Record and other (www.census.org);

I also found this:

To check to see if someone naturalized (and I assume we're talking about the US, here), there are several routes you can use. The end-all-be-all of agencies is the USCIS <www.uscis.gov>. Once you have proof of death of the person (death certificate, obit, etc.) or the person's approval (if living), you can file a G-639 FOIA request for the C-File of the person. You'll either get a "letter of no record" if the person didn't naturalize or the person's naturalization file. The problem with the USCIS is that it takes a very long time to get a response (1+ years). An advantage is that it's free.

A faster route is the National Archives (NARA) <www.archives.gov>. You have the specify where the person lived, and for a fee, the archives will search for naturalization documents filed in federal courts with that person's name in their region (each NARA office covers a region of the country). NARA will then send you either a "letter of no record" (you must request to have them mail you a letter if nothing is found) or a copy of the naturalization documents except for the certificate of naturalization (they don't keep those). It costs $22.50 for certified documents, but they get back to you in a matter of weeks.

Since the National Archives only searches documents filed in federal court, you may also want to check the county in which the person lived to see if he/she filed in that court. The procedure, price, and timing varies. You'll have to contact the county archives directly. 

Oct 292011

Today I received information on the naturalization of my mom's maternal grandfather, my great-grandfather, Samuel Wilson. I had found his gravemarker on findagrave.com recently. That gave me his birthdate so I could search for his naturalization records, hoping they might reveal something about his parents and his birthplace in Ireland.

This is the first step in genealogical search through Homeland Security (www.uscis.gov/genealogy). You first do an Index Search, which gives you this minimal information. Then you use the case number and file number to get a copy of the actual naturalization documentation.

One thing that's interesting from this is that I now have a different birth date. On his grave marker, it gives 30 Aug 1874. This gives 30 Aug 1871. Given that this was filled out by him, I imagine this has a higher probability of being the correct birth date. I'll give 1871 a try before checking out 1874. I'll also ping Ireland again. I had originally given them 1874 and they returned no match. Maybe they'll have better luck with 1871.

my great-grandfather, Samuel Wilson, naturalization information

Oct 062011

One lesson I've learned over the past couple of years is to regularly check ancestry.com and familysearch.org. New databases are added all the time.

I'm particularly interested in any records related to the date of my great-grandfather's naturalization. I'm 99% certain that he became naturalized after my grandfather was born. My great-grandfather came to the US around 1908. My grandfather was born in 1911. I'm pretty sure there was a waiting period before people could become naturalized. Also, the 1920 census listed him as "pa", which means that his first papers were filed (declaration of intent), but he was not yet a citizen. Only on the 1930 census is he listed as "na", which means naturalized.

But now I need to find proof. So any documentation will help.

My new search on ancestry.com brought up a pretty spartan record from something called the "U.S. Naturalization Record Index".

Not much to go by here. But I try contacting the National Archives in Chicago (because they were the only ones I could find easily oneline) to see if they can help find an original record to go with this index filing.

They tell me that this appears to be the naturalization of Angelo Palmeri while serving in the military during WWI. According to them, the copy of the index card, along with associated information, indicated that he was naturalized in the U. S. District Court, Western District of New York in 1918. But I needed to contact the NY office of the National Archives. I email them (twice) and am still waiting for a response.

I'm not sure if this is my great-grandfather, given that he was listed as "pa" in the 1920 census, but maybe this indexes when papers were filed not when naturalization was finalized. I also don't know whether he actually served in WWI. We'll see if they turn up anything. Leave no stone unturned.

Update (19 Oct 2011)

I received a reply. It turns out this belonged to someone who is definitely not my great-grandfather:

Military Petition Number S2-302 from the Western District Court of New York
Name – Angelo Palmeri
Address – Stationed at Fort Niagara, NY
DOB – January 14, 1887 at Perugia, Prov. Prorricia, Italy
Date of Naturalization – June 1918

Too bad. But now that I have a contact in the National Archives, I'm asking if they can search their records given the information I have. This is in parallel with a search request I submitted to Homeland Security. Still waiting.

Sep 292011

One particularly critical piece of documentation I need for dual Italian citizenship is my great-grandfather Angelo Palmeri's naturalization record.

In order to qualify for Italian citizenship, my grandfather must have been born before my great-grandfather became naturalized. 

I need a statement from homeland security showing his full name, place of birth and date of birth, date of the naturalization, certificate number (or, if a legal alien, his permanent resident card number). Before ordering this record, I had found my great-grandfather's birthdate when I found his Social Security Death Index record on ancestry.com.

My first filed attempt was a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Apparently, since 2008, naturalization records are no longer access via FOIA. So my request by email and fax was rejected.

Instead, I submitted an online request through the Genealogy Program website at http://www.uscis.gov/genealogy. Requests can also be mailed to USCIS Genealogy Program, PO Box 805925, Chicago, IL 60680-4120.

It took a few clicks to find the right place on the web site. First, I clicked on "Make a Genealogy Request" along the left hand side. "Order Online Now" appeared on the right hand side. Apparently, this is a two step process. First, for $20, you need to do an Index Search Request. If that returns a match, for $35 you need to do a Record Request.

We'll see how long it takes to get a result of the index search.