I had my first appointment this morning which went pretty much as I expected after studying all the previous reports on this forum! I am applying through my GGF-GF-F.
The main issue is that I cannot find my GF’s NYC birth record after over 2 years of searching. I tried to compensate for this by making corrections and having everything else they needed. At the same time, I took a minimalist view in a way, since I didn’t believe it was necessary to trace the non-direct line.
They wanted all direct line docs (including death records) but accepted photocopies of the spouse’s (my M and GM) birth records. They did not ask for the spouse’s death records and did not ask for any corrections in the death records I submitted.
Anna had no problem with my GGF and GGM’s birth records from Italy, along with their marriage record. She accepted my GGF’s D.C. which had some errors in his birth date and parent’s names; she did not request my GGM’s D.C.
My GGF never naturalized. I brought certified letters from the Manhattan and Brooklyn County Courts, USCIS and National Archives to support this. I also had a 1905 Census listing my GGF as an alien, with a Certified statement to the contents of the Census from the Manhattan Court records room. She took this but said that I needed to get a Certified copy of the actual Census; this should be no problem. She did note that my GF’s age was incorrect in this document. She did not request my GGF’s ship manifest, which I had available.
In the 1910 Census my GGF is called Daniel rather than Donato and I could never find the 1900 Census but when she asked, I offered the 1910. This has the Americanized spelling of the last name as well as my GF’s correct age. She wanted a Certified copy of that one and also asked for the 1900 or a “No Record” letter.
Of course then we arrived at the missing GF BC. She actually asked if I had his baptism record, which surprised me, but I only had 2 “No Record” letters from the NYC Archives and 7 or 8 of the same from the churches in the area. She didn’t even want to look at any of this, repeatedly saying “We have to stop here.” I just kept talking and bringing out other documents. I had many other things which substantiated his birth date, but she insisted on vital records only. She accepted my grandparents’ NYC marriage record and asked for my GM’s BC (non-direct line). I told her that I had her baptism record (not notarized or apostilled), which she accepted, but she also wants me to get a photocopy of her birth record (which I didn’t bring as it is from the Municipal Archives and has some errors).
I’d made corrections to my GF’s NYC death record, correcting his mother’s maiden name. He is listed as Anthony Christino. The father’s name was simply “Donato.” Since GGF always spelled his name “Cristino” I had them add that spelling. Anna did not like this. She said that the surnames must agree on any vital record and actually called over an older gentleman who appeared to be her supervisor to take a look. They were both very down about this document, looking askance at it, shaking their heads and repeatedly saying in unison, “Oh, no, oh, no, we cannot accept this.” It seemed so over-the-top that I almost started laughing but I retained my composure. I explained that in English we spell the name with a Ch and pointed out that this was a vital record from NYC which was exactly what they were looking for. The man then said, “Well, the laws in Italy are quite different from the laws in NY” and walked away, ominously. That seemed to put an end to it, however they did not ultimately request any changes to this document! In retrospect, it seems like it would have been better for me to correct my GF’s name as a/k/a Cristino if I could, rather than put the different spelling for my GGF.
My GGF left a Will and my GF was the executor, which to me is like both of them reaching out from beyond the grave to say they are each other’s father and son. I asked Anna several times to consider this document, and also asked the supervisor, but they said they could not.
My father’s birth and marriage records were all OK. His D.C. with middle initial (not on his B.C.) and my mother’s maiden name misspelled didn’t concern her. She asked for my mother’s (non-direct line) birth certificate and accepted an unofficial photocopy. I did not correct the spelling of Renata vs. Renate on her marriage record and our birth records, and Anna said that that was not important.
I thought I only needed translations of my own records, but she requested translations of all the vital records in the direct line. My brother, sister and I all have to remove from our BCs my father’s middle name not on his birth record. I hope that we’ll be able to do this (NYC and NYS) without a problem.
She returned all the documents and we must make another appointment. Since I had my driver’s license and US Passport, I didn’t think I needed further proof of residence, but she requested a utility bill; those are in my husband’s name, but she said that a recent bank statement would do. Aside from the above, the letter states, “A Court Order is required to prove the birth of Cristino Donato’s son and indicate that the family name Cristino is now spelled Christino, the birth of Anthony must be registered by the vital records office.” So I need to figure this one out. I have plenty of documentation to support it, but don’t know which Court, etc. I also need to resubmit their application forms with my complete maiden name, not my husband’s name.
I’m glad that it’s over and should be much easier next time. I was in there almost an hour and a half; she took some time to type everything into their database, confer with the supervisor (sotto voce in Italian and I couldn’t hear) and left to verify something else for about 15 minutes (perhaps the notorious D.C.). They would not let my brother or sister come in to review the documents with me; each was seen separately.
I assumed the woman ahead of me would have a much easier time since both of her parents were born in Italy. However it turned out that they were naturalized before she was born. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the applicant following us did the entire interview in Italian and was on his 2nd appointment and he was in and out in a very short time, seemingly very successful.
The other thing I would do differently is to go in myself for the first appointment. I knew that the application was not perfect, so it wasn’t necessary for my brother and sister to take the time off from work to be there. We all have to return again next time. And the earliest appointment I could get was… brace yourselves… early March of 2013 – over a year away! I believe the first appointment only took 6-8 months.
On the plus side, you have a year to get the documents altered as needed. Just a quick note: if you're going to the NYC corrections department to have you father's name changed on your bc, be sure to bring his certified bc. They will not accept photocopies to make this change unless you get lucky as I did and find a sympathetic person who will actually look up the record for you. (I wouldn't count on this though; I had to do some serious begging.) The process takes about three months in NYC.
Thanks mler! That was insightful of you to have them look it up -- I believe NYS actually says that you don't have to send the original if you were born in NYS, as it's in their system. But of course the NYC clerks don't seem to do any favors unless you push.
When Abtran first said the appointment was in March I had a split second of panic thinking I could never get it done so quickly. But of course it's NEXT March. I don't like having to wait another year (since my appointment was originally in August 2011 and they postponed it), but I'd certainly rather have too much time than too little.
Sorry to hear your appointment did not go as planned. It sounds like you have a little work ahead but nothing that is insurmountable. Let's start with your GF BC, you mentioned that you have no records letters from the municipal archives. Have you gone and searched the archives yourself? Search all of the births on your GF birthday so you can catch any possible misspelling. If you still can't find it and you cannot locate a baptismal record you will have to have a delayed birth certificate issued. In order to do this you will have to go to court and file suit against vital records and have the court compel them to record the birth. You mentioned that you have plenty of documentation to prove your GF's birth. What proof do you have?
If you live in Brooklyn then you can file in the Supreme Court Kings County.
Thank you JJ for your sensible advice. I've gotten dozens of similar names and gone to the Archives on several occasions with no luck. There were over 500 births a day in Manhattan at that time, and I've just felt daunted by that much of a search. They are not listed by date of birth but date of filing, which can occur months later. I'm not sure how thoroughly some of the churches have searched their records, but have not actually gone in myself. A major part of the problem is that my father said my GF changed his birthday so he could enlist in WWI over his father's objections, which means that the year would be off. So at this point I wonder if a Court procedure might be easier in the long run.
I have my GF's D.C., his WWI Draft registration, Social Security application and WWII draft card, all of which have consistent birth information. It seems like it shouldn't be that complicated to file with the Court, but so many people have posted that they couldn't find an attorney to handle it for them. I work for an estate lawyer, and I'd assume it must be through the Surrogate's Court since my GF is deceased. But my boss said he never heard of anything like that. The lady at the Consulate said that others have filed successfully, so I know it's possible!
I don't think you can use your GF's death certificate, his WWI draft registration, Social Security application and WWII draft card to prove when and where he was born and get the court to issue a birth certificate.
Who was your Great-grandfather tavelling with when he came to America? If it was not his wife and children, the fact that he WAS married in Italy could mean that his wife traveled with their children at a later time and that possibly your grand-father was actually born in Italy and not in the USA.
The documents that you mention are supportive of your cause but as jennabet mentioned they will not prove birth. Those documents did not require the production of a birth certificate to obtain, just the testimony of the individual. Knowing when and with whom your GGF traveled will go a long way.
Have you tried searching the index at italiangen.org? They have an index of NYC births through 1909. It is not perfect but it does have a lot of useful information.
It is not surprising that your boss has not heard of such an action as only a person seeking dual citizenship would ever need to file such a thing. The action would be against the dept of vital records to compel them to issue a delayed BC. You would file that in the Supreme Court.
So it seems you both agree that I do not have a case right now to prove birth! What documents would one need if a baptism record is not available? (Other states that have the delayed birth procedure through vital records appear to take the documents I listed.) I also have my GGF's Naturalization Petition in which he lists my GF and his birthday.
I feel I've exausted ItalianGen and Ancestry.com listings for similar names. My GF's church marriage record does not list the church where he was baptized. I'm at the point of trying to track down his brother and sisters' marriages to see if they have this information. I've already contacted several possible churches for his confirmation record to see if they might note where he was baptized -- I have a few more of these to go, and then I guess I have to visit the churches who I'm not confident did proper baptism searches.
Jennabet, when I searched the microfilms for my great-grandparents' marriage, I also checked for several years to be sure my GF wasn't born in their town in Italy. I don't think he would have been born anywhere else unless it was on the boat! But that is another one of the missing pieces, since I have not been able to find his mother and sister's travel records, unfortunately.
Sorry if this has already been suggested, but what about census documents to supplement your case? Both federal and state may be useful, if the data is accurate.
Was your GF born around the time that his parents emigrated to the US? If not, then it may be more likely that he was born in the US and that his birth was just never recorded.
IMHO, try to gather as much documentation as you can to support your case - hospital records, early school records, an obituary from a local newspaper, voter registration information, etc.. Unless my memory fails me, there was also a military census done in NYS.
.....But that is another one of the missing pieces, since I have not been able to find his mother and sister's travel records, unfortunately......
Karen, before I would go any further I would try to find his mother's travel records to make sure he wasn't born in Italy. The fact that his father listed him on the naturalization petition as being born in the USA doesn't hold much weight because you haven't been able to locate a USA birth certificate and like the census, applicants for naturalization could list any location they chose for birth of their children as they did not have to provide proof in order to become naturalized. Of course they had to provide proof of their own documents, but not their children's.
It's very difficult to provide proof of birth in the US in some cases. I have yet to locate my gm's NYC birth certificate, but it is my understanding that many births were not recorded in NYC around the turn of the century. That certainly complicates matters.
If I read your information correctly, your ggf never naturalized. This means that his son, your gf, even if born in Italy, did not naturalize as a minor. What if you tried to obtain naturalization information for your gf? In this way, you can tell the consulate that you have been unable to find a bc for your gf in the US and in Italy, but that he never lost Italian citizenship in either case.
If born in the US, he was an Italian citizen by virtue of being born to an Italian who never naturalized. If, however, the consulate continues to insist that hee may have been born in Italy, you can demonstrate that, even in the unlikely event that this is true, there is no evidence anywhere that he ever naturalized in the US. Thus, even had he been born in Italy, he never lost his Italian citizenship.
Do not give up, however, in trying to obtain the delayed bc. It has been done before, but it may be necessary to contact a lawyer to expedite this. It may be worth the cost.
I appreciate all these ideas and suggestions, some of which I haven’t yet pursued. It’s just frustrating since I thought the appointment would help me focus but unfortunately there are still many more avenues I may need to explore.
Actually my GGF Naturalization Petition on 4/9/17 lists my GF as Antonio Cristino born in Manhattan on 10/21/96 – consistent with the later documents so this could be helpful.
I’ve searched ship manifests under GGM’s maiden name and all variations I could think of. I posted a query to this forum at least a year ago and no one could find the 1900 Census either. I’ve actually spent some time searching it house by house near the addresses where they later lived in Little Italy. There’s still more I could do.
1905 NYS Census is very good except GF is listed as 6 years old – born approximately 1899. This would support the fact that he may have changed his birth date since the 1910 and 1920 Census records are consistent with 1896 birth – unless 1905 is an error (and there are other errors in it). His father’s name is changed from Donato to Daniel, though, in 1910 and 1920. Last name changed from Cristino to Christino in both.
GGF came to US in June of 1895 (I have the manifest). GGM I assume in Italy as their second daughter died there in August ’95. GF supposedly born October ’96. I can’t find any trace of the family between June of 1895 and December of 1901 when a sister was born. I think there is a way to manually search for my GGM's ship manifests at the library which might be an idea since perhaps it was mis-transcribed.
I need to think about all of this and figure out what are the best next steps. I’ll probably go back to the Archives as I have about a dozen more possible names to check out. Then re-address some of the churches in the area since they don’t seem to have nearly as long lists. At least they appear to have lived in the same neighborhood the whole time. My brother suggested checking 1941 when he got his Social Security card for a delayed birth record which I should try, too. It is maddening!!!
I couldn't find my GF birth certificate either. Actually, it was never recorded, because he was born to a midwife in 1905 and birth records weren't required in Texas then.
So, I worked with an Archivist at the Catholic Church. She found all baptismal records of his brothers and sisters, but not my GF. She suggested I look at the marriage record...where I found some signatures and scribbling and writing. I sent all that information to her and she recognized the names of the priest that verified the marriage record and signed it. She then went to that church and found the marriage record and a note of baptism (when and where) by his name. It was not the baptismal certificate (that could not be found), but I went ahead and had it translated for my meeting...and the Houston Consulate accepted it. I was so relieved!
So, try looking at any information written on the marriage certificate and contact the Catholic Church archives in NY. Be nice and offer a contribution. Maybe you will get something!