[APG Public List] "First Papers"

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG Elissa at PowellGenealogy.com
Thu Jul 29 11:12:48 MDT 2010

I agree with everything Meredith said. This was the process and it does
depend on place and time in history as to the variables of how long between
first and final papers (application and final). The federal government took
over the application process in 1906 so look there after that time. The
Western District of Pennsylvania naturalization files are on Footnote.com.
Others may be digitized in time. 

Telling a client to look somewhere for something that is easily accessible
to the public can be a money-saving suggestion to that client. If they don't
understand the instructions however, it can cause some confusion. If $16 is
all she paid for the retrieval of the document, that would be a bargain in
comparison to some fees. What would the client have thought about the $27
fee for an SS-5? Expecting that naturalizations in all time periods (you
don't say when this one was) carry the same information of birthplace or
ship name is an unrealistic expectation. Educating this client about what
was asked in the timeframe her ancestor naturalized might have set
expectations better.

Hope you can explain this all to your student, so that she can feel better
about what she was given.

-- Elissa

Elissa Scalise Powell, CG
CG and Certified Genealogist are Service Marks of the Board for
Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board certificants
after periodic evaluations by the Board. 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: On Behalf Of Meredith Hoffman / GenerationsWeb
> Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2010 8:01 AM
> "First Papers" is simply the common term for "Declaration of
> Intention." This is what you file to initiate the process of becoming
> a citizen.
> After that, there's a waiting period (which was different at different
> times and under different circumstances); then you file what is
> commonly called "Final Papers," which is the common term for the
> "Petition for Naturalization." (Typically, you have to have been in
> the US continuously for five years, with some exceptions, before you
> can file the Petition for Naturalization.)
> They are, in fact, two separate documents. Sometimes, they may be
> filed together at whatever repository you find them, and sometimes
> they are filed separately. Sometimes, they're not even at the same
> repository! This is especially true the farther back you go, and
> before 1906 in particular, when you may find one or both documents
> filed at any number of local courts, and often not at the same court,
> and sometimes not in the same state!
> So, as two separate documents, when I charge someone for locating and
> retrieving "naturalization papers," if I retrieve both, I charge for
> each one as a separate research cost, with any and all attendant costs
> (travel, finding the microfilm, locating the record, making the copy,
> recording the source information, and transcribing it, if that's part
> of the job request). That's also the case if I'm locating them online;
> if I'm lucky, I'll find both together when I search for one, but
> typically, it's two individual searches, ... with two individual
> charges.
> Personally and professionally, I don't find a charge for $16 to
> retrieve a Declaration of Intention excessive. Nor is it in any way
> unethical or shady to charge a separate fee to retrieve any
> corresponding Petition for Naturalization.
> As for whether the cost is "worth $16 I paid for them" -- these
> documents are what they are; nobody was trying to "foist" something
> off on your student. The issue of their value is subjective and that's
> a whole 'nother conversation....
> With regard to your student saying that she was told to "look on
> ancestry...then she could find them," I assume that she was told to
> find the _index_ to the naturalization papers on Ancestry, and with
> that information it would be possible to retrieve the actual document.

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