Illiteracy and Naturalization in 1903

Over 25 million Italians have emigrated between 1861 and 1960 with a migration boom between 1871 and 1915 when over 13,5 million emigrants left the country for European and overseas destinations.
jennabet
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Illiteracy and Naturalization in 1903

Postby jennabet » 19 Oct 2010, 00:47

In 1917, the American Congress approved a law which denied entry into the United States to those emigrants who could not read a forty-word document in their own language.

What were the naturalization requirements in 1903? Would just a Declaration have been enough? IS THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENT A NATURALIZATION? Please advise. Would USCIS NOT have a record of this?

Example: State of Pennsylvania, Cameron County - Be it remembered that before the Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas of said County, personally came ________ an alien, a native of Italy who upon his solemn oath doth depose and say that he was born in Italy in the year A.D.______, and is now about the age of 30 years; that he was a member of _______ and owed allegiance to The King of Italy that he migrated from Italy and arrived in New York on or about the 29 day of June A.D. 1900 and that it is his bonafide intention to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince, State, Potentate or Sovereignty whatever, and particularly to The King of Italy, whereof he is now a subject. Sworn and subscribed before me this 3rd day of April A.D. 1903.

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Re: Illiteracy and Naturalization in 1903

Postby mler » 19 Oct 2010, 03:01

Looks like a Declaration of Intent.

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Re: Illiteracy and Naturalization in 1903

Postby KarenChristino » 22 Oct 2010, 15:00

This says "it is his bonafide INTENTION to become a citizen of the U.S." This is the first document that is filed to apply. Then there is a waiting period and they have to file the Petition, which in my GGF case is a longer document and contains much more information (lists family members, etc.). Then I believe they have to pass a test and a judge signs off on it on the 2nd page (which it looks like may be the back of the Petition). It is only when the judge approves the actual application for Citizenship (Petition) that they become a citizen and officially renounce allegiance to Italy. (The Petition can be rejected, for instance if the applicant is "deficient in knowledge" which was my GGF case.)

From what I understand from the USCIS website, they only have copies after 1906. Before that things were handled through the local courts. Since your Declaration was filed in 1903, it seems like you should check both places for the Petition just to be sure since the Petition may have been filed before or after 1906.

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Re: Illiteracy and Naturalization in 1903

Postby jennabet » 23 Oct 2010, 19:20

Hi Karen. I did check the local court (Cameron County Prothonotary) and have received a letter saying they have nothing else in addition to the Declaration for Angelo Perri and they have nothing at all for his son, Frank Perry, who died at age 31.

Actually, I need to know if his son, Frank Perry was naturalized. In 1917, at age 22, the son stated to the draft board that he was an ALIEN. His father, Angelo claims to have been Naturalized in 1913 (although USCIS has no record). In 1913, son Frank would have been age 19 -- no longer a minor -- and not nauralized along with his father if the age of majority was 18.

The more info I find, the more confusing it gets. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

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Re: Illiteracy and Naturalization in 1903

Postby KarenChristino » 27 Oct 2010, 19:11

Did you query USCIS regarding Frank? I have Census records that say that some of my relatives were naturalized when they definitely were NOT. So some documents are not that reliable. However I would think that the WWI Draft Registration would tend to be correct.

Anyway, a Declaration of Intent is not enough. That just says that you're interested. Kind of like making a proposal but not yet married! :)

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Re: Illiteracy and Naturalization in 1903

Postby jennabet » 27 Oct 2010, 19:57

Hi Karen, yes, USCIS says that neither father, Angelo or son, Frank were ever naturalized. I have hit all the places I could hit to try to prove otherwise and just finished up today with my last call to the local court in Cameron County, PA, afterwhich they came up empty.

Same deal. This father and son gave conflicting data on 1920 and 1930 Census. Both stated they were naturalized and both gave conflicting arrival dates, making them much earlier. I seem to think they did this because they were living in a neighborhood with mostly Irish residents, who really did arrive earlier than the Italians -- and these Italians just wanted to fit in (can't blame them really). But I trust that Frank did not lie to the draft board in 1917 when he said he was an Alien and married with two kids. We know he was married with two kids at the time because a picture of them in 1918 is hanging on our wall.

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Re: Illiteracy and Naturalization in 1903

Postby KarenChristino » 27 Oct 2010, 20:57

So you're all set! I actually just called Manhattan and the guy checked the old Naturalization records on the phone. I hadn't looked into my GM side of the family before, but their Census records, too, showed that they were naturalized. And it turns out they weren't either. It really seems like there are more errors than not in my family's Census records.

Also I saw in a book that when they make the Declaration it's considered submitting their papers, so they put "Pa" in the naturalization column on the Census records. And sometimes it's really hard for me to read whether that's "Na" for Naturalized or "Pa." (The third option is "Al" for Alien.)

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Re: Illiteracy and Naturalization in 1903

Postby jennabet » 27 Oct 2010, 21:44

Excellent point about it being easy to confuse Na for Pa on the old census records, most of which are written with an antiquated style penmanship.

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Re: Illiteracy and Naturalization in 1903

Postby KarenChristino » 27 Oct 2010, 22:09

Sometimes I stare and stare at these documents, download them, make them larger or smaller, and I still can't make them out! I just got an uncle's Draft Registration record, and under color of eyes it really looks like "Gooy." I guess that probably means gray. But for hair color, it looks for all the world like "Bollen" Maybe it could be "Bollar." I'm assuming it's brown, but it looks absolutely nothing like brown!


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