Saturday, July 21, 2018

Now Indexing: Naturalization Records

It's back to New York State and the naturalization records of that state's Southern District for me. Yep, it may seem like I'm altruistic in this volunteer effort to index digitized records at, but it's really on account of selfish reasons that I zoom in to work on New York records. I have roots in that New York City arearoots with no documentation that I can find of arrival from elsewhere.

Don't think I'm going all Native on you. I know my paternal roots originate on another continent. It's just that I'm having difficulty tracing their migratory movements. I'm waiting for the day those magic documents get digitized and indexed so they are findable by online search engines.

Actually, I don't do well just waiting. I wait by taking action. And indexing records at is the best way for me to cope with that research impatience. So, once a month, I stop by their website's indexing page to look for another available project working on anything having to do with the port of New York.

This time, I worked on two batches of records. While all the subjects of these records came in through a city in the state of New York, some came from Canada via Buffalo while others came from Russia through the port in New York City. I indexed a dancer from Montreal, a woman returning to the U.S. from Saskatoon, a couple from the island of Antigua in what was then called the British West Indies, and a man and wife plus four of their children from Russia.

Seeing that family with the four children made me wonder just how the indexers decide on which details will be recorded. Husbands and wives are indexed, according to instructions provided, but there is no field to enter the information on the children. What if a researcher only knows the name of the childsay a great-grandparent for whom knowledge of his parents' names would be a gift? At this point, my mantra about always look at the document rings true; otherwise, this valuable information would be missed. Still, if the child's name was all that would lead a researcher to find the document, the link to discovery is lost by such a process.

Even so, I like to continue this effort. I figure if I only do a small amount but stick to it every month, I will have made a helpful contribution in the long run, while not exhausting myself enough to drop out in the early stages. It's a selfish project I'm engaged in, true, but it is a slow and steady contribution that will eventually benefit others, as well.


  1. As someone whose family came from Russia to NYC via Canada (and some also came via Ellis Island and Castle Garden), I want to say thank you for indexing!

    1. Anything to help find those important documents! Marian, I know you're doing your part, too. Bit by bit, hopefully we'll all pitch in to make these documents widely available and searchable.

  2. Good reminder to go there and do a batch!

    1. Glad you are indexing, too, Far Side. Just consider this my monthly pitch for more volunteers :)


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