Today’s a pretty important day so we’re going to feature a special record.  Well, this isn’t the super-duper important record but it’s the important key to getting to the really important record but I won’t go into all that just yet. 

Anyway…

Today marks the 80th anniversary of Max Schellhardt’s naturalization as a U.S. citizen!    

Naturalization is a voluntary process by which an alien/immigrant becomes an American citizen.  Immigrants who had declared their intention (declaration of intention or “first papers”) to become U.S. citizens and who had lived in the United States continuously for five years could petition the court – county or Federal – to grant them U.S. citizenship.  The court used the information on the petition to determine whether the petition should be granted or denied.  If it was granted, the immigrant became a naturalized citizen. 

Max filed his petition with the U.S. District Court at Philadelphia in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  On March 22, 1933, his petition was granted. 

This image is the card from the index to the naturalization petitions.  There are some interesting tidbits of information – Max’s address at the time of his petition, his age, and, of course, his signature.  Remember when Max arrived in 1924?  He was a young, single, 18 year old kid from Germany.  By 1933, he was 27 years old and a married father of three sons trying to live the American dream.       

From a records perspective, the most important thing is the petition number.  Once you have the petition number, you can obtain the actual naturalization petition.  Unfortunately, petitions post 1930 have not been digitized (long story) so unless someone else was able to get a copy in the past, I have to wait until my colleague at the National Archives in Philadelphia responds to my email.  In the meantime, we’ll have to make do with this image of the index card. 

Let's all join in to wish Max a happy naturalization day! 
Picture
Indexes to Naturalization Petitions, 1795-1951. Image via ancestry.com via NARA
 


Comments

Helen Knuttel
03/22/2013 4:04pm

Hi, I never saw this card. Where did it come from? I am curious to
know.
Aunt Helen

Reply

Being a natural citizen is every alien and immigrants dream and Max is lucky that he was able to achieve it. Everyone deserves to be an illegal citizen of the country they have chosen to stay. Max has come a long way just to be naturalized. Thanks for sharing what the card and for telling us about the petition number. Happy Naturalization Day to Max hope his day is going well.

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Margaret Henderson
03/22/2013 4:59pm

Helen, I am not sure but I think the Archivist has been hard at work! I never saw it either.

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Denise
03/23/2013 7:33am

Oh, and Mom, I think this also might solve the "why I can't I find Mathilda's naturalization" papers...if she petitioned the county court instead of the Federal court, we wouldn't have them in our holdings!

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Bet
03/22/2013 8:16pm

Denise, this is absolutely amazing! I never knew that my grandfather didn't become a citizen until well after Dad was born and after he returned from Germany. Thanks so much for doing this

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Denise
03/23/2013 7:31am

Aunt Helen - this card is in the series "Indexes to Naturalization Petitions to the U.S. Circuit and District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1795-1951" which is in the holdings of the National Archives at Philadelphia. It is digitized and available on ancestry.com. The actual petition, however, is a different story. Only the petitions up to 1930 have been digitized (and are available on Fold3.com) however, post 1930, there were issues with the microfilm so they weren't digitized. My boss - who used to work at NARA at Philly - said it's chancy if the petitions post 1930 still exist. I emailed a colleague so I'm hoping they'll get back to me with good news (and a scan of the petition!)

Bet, thanks! I'm still working on the details a little bit because in the 1930 Census, it almost looks like it's noted that he was already naturalized but this is the only extant record that I've found regarding his naturalization and it's clearly after the 1930 Census. Also, and I think this is an important piece of the German story, he actually becomes naturalized a year BEFORE they return to Germany (they'll leave to go back in July or August 1934). It has me wondering then if the "going back to Germany forever" bit isn't quite accurate...or if Max wanted to protect himself, just in case. But no worries, I'll offer all my conjectures in a few weeks!

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Helen Knuttel
03/23/2013 7:28pm

Hi Denise, We sailed for Germany on July 19, 1934. I heard that story so many times that it's imbedded in my brain. I think this is correct, but it's a shame that we don't have outgoing manifests to check it out. We were supposed to sail on May 19, but as you know Nanny was pregnant with me and Uncle Bill was in the hospital with Scarlet Fever and that's why the plans were changed. I don't know if there were advance plans about going, but the story I remember being told was that the steamship line called and said that they were booked on the Bremen for the May date.
I also think that it was possible that Osmund expected us to stay there a very long time as he had business for each of his children. When we were in Germany in the 90's, my cousin's husband tried to translate for me all the things that Max's cousin Viktor was relating, but the conversation went too fast for him to get to everything (wish I would have had a tape recorder). Anyway, the one fact I got from this conversation was that Max did not like all the "uniforms" on the street and that Hitlet was taking all the 7yr. old in the "Kinderbundt" which was the "Children's Army". That, I think, is the main reason that we came back. Grandpa Osmund gave his son what, I guess, amounted to one of the properties he had and that's how Grandpa was able to open the first bar.

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Bet
03/24/2013 5:36pm

I never knew that Dad was in the hospital with scarlet fever as a child! As for the stay in Germany, I thought I remembered Dad saying that they came back because anyone who wanted to work was required to sign a loyalty oath to the Nazi party and Max was unwilling to do that

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