Sunday, July 5, 2020
Immigration Records from New Jersey
Who says a holiday can keep me from my regularly scheduled volunteer indexing?
Last night, while waiting for nightfall to get here so we could enjoy viewing the celebratory fireworks, I realized I could squeeze in a couple short batches of naturalization records. While my usual project selection—naturalization records for New York, where my immigrant ancestors entered the United States—was not available, there was one for neighboring New Jersey. Remembering that many of my extended family opted to settle across the Hudson River from the "Big Apple," I thought this might be enough cause to join in the effort.
One plus to keeping with a certain type of record set, over many volunteer sessions, is that you become familiarized with the usual data requested, both on the original form and in the indexing format. It really didn't take that long to review the forms, despite their originating from a different state. Besides, since the forms were a forerunner of the Declaration of Intention—these were from 1855, when bureaucracy hadn't yet flexed its muscle—there wasn't much information collected from the immigrant. Streamlined forms mean streamlined indexing for me.
On the other hand, short batches sometimes mean the group of documents had been previously attempted by someone else, who apparently became stuck and abandoned the project. It sometimes does take me by surprise to see what the previous problem was—and figure out the best way to backtrack and correct the issue—but the more I get involved with this process, the more the problem solving seems intuitive.
With two short batches to complete—this time for Essex County, New Jersey—I was finished with my volunteer service for the week and quickly out the door to view some fireworks. The idea behind setting up these brief batches of indexing is to provide small packets of work that a volunteer can do without involving huge amounts of time. The more volunteers who make themselves available, because of this light work load, the more those records can be processed and become fully searchable for future researchers. Whether it's "giving back" or "paying it forward," it allows all of us to find more of the family history records we seek.