Saturday, December 9, 2017

Paying it Forward
One Document at a Time

Plunging into the subsequent generations of the man whose photo I found in an antique shop, I learn that one of his daughters had married a man born in Greece. At the time period in which this happened, a female American who entered into such a marriage lost her citizenship, and could only regain it upon going through the same naturalization process as her husband. Of course, I can trace the process from the point at which she married the Greek man, and at which point she filed her papers to regain her citizenship, but as for the interim—in which the man apparently changed his name to a much simpler American surname—I can find no such documentation.

Perhaps for that reason, when it came time for this month's volunteer work at indexing genealogical records, I decided to look at the naturalization records needing some work at I indexed two batches of naturalization records in the hope that every little bit helps. More to the point, I hoped that this Greek man's legal paper trail might be one of the records about to be released into the searchable stack, once this set of records is completely indexed.

While the batches of records I handled seemed to contain only immigrants from Italy and Switzerland, I have to trust that somewhere, somehow, the pages with the Blain family's son in law will soon surface. So many of us have benefited from records which have already been digitized, indexed and placed online. We didn't do the work to get those records online, of course, but we can do our part to pass the blessing along to others by helping to get even more records on the website. That's why I try to do a little bit of indexing every month. Every little bit does turn out to make a difference.

Whether I ever find that Greek son in law's naturalization records or not, I know that the few minutes I dedicated to doing this easy bit of volunteer work—in the cozy comfort of my own home, complete with mocha and snacks—will make research easier for someone else, just like others have done in the past for me.

Above: Victorian Trade Card for Alter, Forwood & Company, prepared by lithographer A. B. Seeley in 1881; courtesy Miami University Libraries Digital Library Program via Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. I need to spend more time there indexing! Thanks for the reminder! :)

    1. Slow and steady is all it takes. Even a little bit adds up to a significant contribution over time. I'm sure your winter weather will afford you plenty of indexing opportunities, once we get past the holidays.


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