POINT Chapter 15 Meeting - May 3, 2003

POINTers In Person
Chapter 15
Northern New Jersey

P.O. Box 636
Totowa, New Jersey

Pursuing Our Italian Names Together

 May 3, 2003

Albert Marotta (#1018)

     The Northern New Jersey chapter of POINTers In Person met on May 3, 2003, at the
Elmwood Park Municipal Building.  Twenty-one people attended.

     Annita Zalenski (#39) opened the meeting by announcing that the next POINT National Conference will be in Kansas City, Missouri on October 7-9, 2004.  See http://point-pointers.net for details.  She also mentioned the necessity for our chapter to renew its commitment to its mission and for members to volunteer and form a Program  Committee and a Hospitality Committee.  Carolyn McNamara and Lucille Kent volunteered to help plan the August meeting and Joseph Infosino (#4718), Mary Frances Dougherty, and Sal Lagattuta will help with the November meeting.

     A family connection between two members, Maryanne Graham (#3654) and Judi Bonzkowski, was discovered at this meeting.  Through casual conversation, Maryanne learned that her uncle was married to Judi's aunt.  Maryanne also showed members the information Italy sent her.  She wrote to the State Archives of Benevento, but received records from the Province of Caserta.  Later she learned that the commune of Piedimonte d'Alife changed its name to Piedimonte Matese in 1970.  This is why she couldn't find her grandfather's birthplace on a current map.  Lucille Kent (#3038) described her Corleone and Cefalu trip to members' delight.  Sal Lagattuta (#3352) reminded members that Internet mailing lists for towns in Italy could prove very useful for genealogists.  He spoke about an old family legend which hinted that there were Spanish Jews in his family.  Sal traced some of his family back to 1548.  Mary Frances Dougherty met someone whose grandfather was the surrogate father to her grandfather.

     Maryanne Graham  presented the treasurer's report.  Our chapter has 88 members; fifty of them kept their dues current.

     Arnold Lang, our guest speaker, gave a very informative presentation on Immigration and Naturalization Records: 1790 to Present.  He gave a fine and detailed survey, tracing with members the development of these records from the Colonial and Revolutionary periods, through the period from 1790-1906 with legislation influencing naturalization and finally from 1906 to present.  Arnold reminded members that not all aliens were naturalized and that visas and alien registration records are also available.  Finally, he piloted our chapter towards where these records might be located.

     Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution of 1789 gave Congress the power to "establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization".  By 1795, a two-step Naturalization process was established.  This included a Declaration of Intention (an arriving alien, 21 years or older, would file this record in any court of record) and the Naturalization Petition (after the alien resided in the U.S. for five years and in the state for two years and waited three years after filing his Declaration of Intention).  The details of these laws changed in 1798, 1802, 1824 (Minor Naturalization Act: if alien arrived after 18 years of age, he could be naturalized without filing an earlier Declaration of Intention), 1868, 1870, 1907 (a U.S. born female citizen lost citizenship if she married an alien), 1922 (Married Women's Act: a  woman's nationality was no longer dependent upon her husband), 1924 (Immigration Quota Act: aliens need visas to immigrate), 1924 (photographs are now required on naturalization documents), 1940 (Alien Registration Act: if alien was over 14 years of age, he had to register at the post office and then received a "Green Card") and 1944 (alien files).

     Other methods of Naturalization included Derivative Naturalization (children and wives, until 1922, automatically attained citizenship upon naturalization of father/husband; No records, except for the husband, exists), Military Naturalization (Act of May 9, 1918 provided for the immediate naturalization of an alien in Service during World War I, usually at military camps or nearby courts, without Declaration of Intention) and Collective Naturalization (when citizenship is granted to an entire group of people, usually due to government acquisition of a new territory, such as Puerto Rico).

     If records were made between 1798-1828, the researcher could probably find the Declaration of Intention and a Report & Registry at the courts near the port of arrival or at the regional branches of the National Archives.  Prior to 1906, the Declaration of Intention was not standardized in content.  However after 1906, it contained much more information.  If the immigrant completed the process a few years later, the Intention would often be attached to his "final papers" and filed together.

     The 1870, and 1900-1930 Federal Censuses will show whether the ancestor was naturalized and the following codes were used:  Al=Alien, Pa=Filed Declaration, Na=Naturalized.  The 1920 census even includes the date.  Researchers can also search indexes to both the Declaration and the Naturalization which can be found at the National Archives and in the LDS catalog.

     If the ancestor immigrated after 1906, researchers can request records from the INS under the Freedom of Information Act.  Call 1-800-870-3676 to request Form G-639.  A Certificate of Arrival was issued after 1911.  Immigrant Visas (1924-1944), Alien Registration Forms (1940-1944) contain important information and can be obtained from the INS.  These documents were used instead of Naturalization.

     Arnold Lang has an excellent website: http://home.att.net/~arnielang/index.html

 Future meetings will be held on:
                      August 2, 2003
                      November 1, 2003
                      February 7, 2004
                      May 1, 2004
                      August 7, 2004

For more information,  see our website: https://sites.rootsweb.com/~njpoint/

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