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The National Archives at Atlanta

National Archives Southeast Regional Branch, Morrow, Georgia (Photo cour­tesy NARA web­site, under fair use)

On my way South and West to attend the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research, I took time out to stop into the National Archives  Southeast Regional Branch in Morrow, Georgia (near Atlanta). This branch serves the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee and pro­vides doc­u­men­tary records (tex­tual records, maps, pho­tographs, and archi­tec­tural draw­ings) relat­ing to the con­duct of national gov­ern­ment oper­a­tions in those states. It also has exten­sive micro­film collections

I wanted to take a look at the immi­gra­tion and nat­u­ral­iza­tion records avail­able at the Southeastern Branch of the Archives.

U.S. nat­u­ral­iza­tion records at the branch begin in 1790. The records are orga­nized by court and then, within date ranges, alpha­bet­i­cally by petitioner.

I exam­ined the peti­tion for cit­i­zen­ship of Louis Nicholas Allard.

The two-page doc­u­ment says that he was a native of St. Domingo and a sub­ject of the Republic of France. (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was a colony of France between 1795 and 1801 and (after a slave rebel­lion) between 1802 and 1809.) The peti­tion says that he arrived in the United States on 15 May 1793, and cur­rently resides in Savannah, Georgia, where he has lived for four years with his fam­ily.  His age at the time of the peti­tion (12 December 1798) is recorded as 42. He says that he has “no pro­fes­sion or occu­pa­tion, but was for­merly a planter.” He was admit­ted into cit­i­zen­ship on 12 February 1799.  All in all, this is a fair amount of data to find in the cou­ple of pages of an immi­gra­tion file of the Federal period.

Gustav Heindrick Richter

I also looked at the dec­la­ra­tion of inten­tion (to become a cit­i­zen of the United States) for, Shelby County, TN. He applied for American cit­i­zen­ship on 3 December 1906. In the doc­u­ment, he declares that he was  born 26 November 1872 in Cittau, Germany (now Zittau Germany, as far as I can fig­ure). The doc­u­ment notes that he arrived in New York “on or about” 13 August 1903. In later records such as this one, we usu­ally find not only the date but also the port of entry.

But the real trea­sure trove are the most recent immi­gra­tion doc­u­ments. For exam­ple, I pulled the dec­la­ra­tion of inten­tion and ancil­lary doc­u­ments for Sam Wahl (Sam Wakdofsky) of Shelby County, Tennessee. This suite of doc­u­ments includes a peti­tion for nat­u­ral­iza­tion, an oath of alle­giance, a cer­tifi­cate of arrival, and a dec­la­ra­tion of inten­tion (with a signed pho­to­graph of the applicant).

There are also affa­davits of two wit­nesses as to the verac­ity of the state­ments Sam Wahl has made, and whether they would rec­om­mend him for cit­i­zen­ship. It is an amaz­ingly detailed doc­u­ment, with detailed phys­i­cal descrip­tions of the appli­cant (Male, white, blond com­plex­ion, blue eyes, light hair, 6 feet, 160 pounds, with “very curly hair”). It also includes the name of his wife, her date and place of birth, and the date and place of their mar­riage, as well as the date and place of birth of their children.

I can hardly wait to get such a doc­u­ment for my wife’s grand­mother, to try to untan­gle that Serbian family.

About the Archives, I will also note that records in the archival doc­u­ment room are easy to get. The staff is friendly and help­ful, and even took time out to help me put my requests in. The pull doc­u­ments as requested, and will bring in mul­ti­ple boxes at a time, though they ask you to work on only one box at a time, and one file in that box at a time, to help ensure cor­rect re-filing.

There is no wi-fi on the premises, and though there are open com­put­ers, they are for ded­i­cated research use at des­ig­nated sites. They are in the process of putting together a wire­less net­work, but, in the mean­time, you can get your Internet fix (or your trail­ing spouse can, across the street at the Dunkin’ Donuts.)

I’m look­ing for­ward to using this facil­ity, and the Georgia Archives next door, many times in the future.

U.S. District Court, Southern District of Georgia, Savannah Division, Records of the U. S. District Courts of the United States, 1685–1991. Record Group 21. Naturalization Case Files, 1790–1861, A-E. Acc. 55A0024, Box 1. Naturalization Papers, Louis Nicholas Allard, 1799.

U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee, Memphis Division, Records of the U. S. District Courts of the United States, 1685–1991. Record Group 21. Naturalization Declarations, Vols. 1–3, December 1906-February 1917, Nos. 1–677, Box 1, Vol. 1, p. 1. Naturalization Declaration, Gustav Heindrick Richter, 1906.

U.S. District Court, Western District of Tennessee, Memphis Division, Records of the U. S. District Courts of the United States, 1685–1991. Record Group 21. Naturalization Petitions, Vols. 11–13, March 1938-November 1942, Petition Nos. 1545–2016, Box 2. Naturalization Papers, Sam Wahl, 1935.

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