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.
About Jeanie Croasmun
Jeanie Croasmun has been working at Ancestry.com while futilely attempting to prove the horse thief story in her family history for over seven years. During that time, she learned enough about her family to determine that the story is likely a great work of fiction. But the search continues ...