Thursday, January 11, 2018

Maria D'Ingeo Gatto's C-File and Alien Registration Form

A few years ago, I was inspired by Emily Kowalski Schroeder's post Dominik Kowalski's Certificate of Citizenship on her blog The Spiraling Chains. She described how she had requested her great-grandfather's C-File number from USCIS, and I decided to do the same for my great-grandmother, Maria Stella D'Ingeo Gatto. The whole process took more than 4 months. (Getting around to writing the blog post took another couple of years!)

My great-grandmother immigrated to the U.S. in April 1917, with her father and two of her sisters. They came from Italy, but I'm not currently sure whether the girls were born there. Their Italian parents had immigrated to Brazil sometime after 1896, but I have no evidence of whether it was before or after their three youngest daughters were born. The main question I had hoped to answer with these records was where Maria was born. Was she born in Italy or Brazil? And if the latter, I wanted to know where in Brazil, so I could attempt to find a record of it.

I first ordered an index search, on December 29, 2013. I received a response in February, indicating that there was both a C-File (Naturalization Certificate File) and a Form AR-2 (Alien Registration Form) existing in relation to my great-grandmother. I requested those records on February 28, 2014. I received the records in response in the middle of May, 2014.

The file consisted of the following:
Petition for Naturalization, dated 1941
Letter to Immigration Officials (with copy), 18 March 1942
Response from Immigration Officials, 17 April, 1942
Certificate of Naturalization, 20 July 1943
Alien Registration Form, (AR-2), 9 September 1943

They did not answer my question - at least not consistently!

According to the 1941 Petition for Naturalization: Maria was born in "Brazil, South America"
According to the 1943 Certificate of Naturalization: her "former nationality" was "Italian"
According to the 1943 Alien Registration: born in "Brazil," "citizen or subject of Brazil"

I personally feel that the weight of the evidence is in Brazil's favor, but for everything I find that says "Brazil" there's something else that says "Italy." I've even wondered if the Italian "former nationality" didn't have to do with where she was born, but who her parents were (did Italy offer citizenship to the foreign-born children of Italian citizens?); where she lived thereafter (in Italy for a time; could the Brazilian-born family members have naturalized?); or whom she married (an Italian citizen, in America; would that have made her Italian from the perspective of US officials, in the same way as an American woman could lose her American citizenship by marrying a foreign man?) But if any of those were the case, why would she claim Brazilian citizenship on the very next document she filled out?

1 comment:

Claudia said...

I think there is more to the story but you don't know what it was.