It seems like I know more about everyone else’s family history than my own. That’s how things work when you put together a magazine: you get very involved in the subject but from a third-person perspective. My own family hasn’t made it any simpler: they throw things away, forget to tell stories, and have surnames that get misspelled – a lot.
Occasionally, however, I’m inspired to forget everyone else’s family history and search for mine. Yesterday was one of those days. I was on my homepage at Ancestry.com when I noticed that new naturalization records – a whole mess of them – had been posted online. Since two of my four grandparents immigrated to America as children, I thought I’d check to see if maybe, just maybe, this time they (or more likely their parents) were included.
I started with my paternal grandmother. I plugged in her first name and last name. Nothing. I tweaked the search a little. Still no solid matches. I moved on to her dad and instead found someone I believe was his brother. I tried spelling my great-grandfather’s name a little differently and that’s when I found him — name, place of birth, the names and birthdates of his three children, and a handful of other glorious details.
Giddy with success, I switched families, turning this time to my maternal grandfather. Testing the system, I gave up as little info as possible: first name, last name, nothing else. Bingo! His record was the first one on my list and his naturalization beamed with more details than I could have ever hoped for: immigration date, birth town, marriage date, and a birth date, something none of us has ever known. I did an Internet search for the address listed and found the house my mom was born in. I searched for pictures of his hometown in Italy (I’ve really gotta’ visit someday). And I made a mental note to tell my kids their great-granddad was an iceman. They’ll think it’s nuts.
Click here to dive right into the naturalization records . Or, if you’re interested in discovering your ancestors as children, preview our issue devoted to the subject, the January/February issue of Ancestry magazine.