News from the National Archives Catalog: Witness Depositions in Support of Seamen’s Protection Certificates

Newly digitized and now available in the National Archives Catalog: Newport, Rhode Island Witness Depositions in Support of Seamen’s Protection Certificates.

The National Archives at Boston holds many records of historical and genealogical interest, including U.S. Customs Service Records, which contain documentation of American seamen from New England.

In July 2016, the Newport Historical Society transferred a group of  Witness Depositions to the National Archives at Boston. These depositions, filed in 1832 for the port of Newport, Rhode Island, were identified within a collection of Customs District records and were digitized directly after accessioning. The group is regarded as an accretion to an existing series of the Newport customs district, and are now available to view, download, and transcribe in the Catalog!

While the certificates themselves are not part of the records of this customs district, each deposition is an affidavit made by an individual to a justice of the peace or the collector of customs attesting to the American citizenship of a particular seaman. The earlier affidavits are handwritten, and the later ones are on printed forms.

The affidavits usually include the number assigned by the collector; name and signature of the witness; name of the seaman; the seaman’s age, height, hair color, eye color, complexion; his place of birth; his residence at the time the declaration was signed; the port and date of the affidavit; and the signature of the justice of the peace or the collector. This series also contains additional witness depositions, as well as registers of seamen’s certificates issued, which are slated for future digitization.  Learn more about these records and more from the National Archives at Boston.

What’s in a name? Help make naturalization records name searchable

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, it turns out, if you are searching for a petition for naturalization and do not know the court of naturalization or petition number. And if you’re in the midst of family or historical research, you’re probably already looking for these records (or you soon will be!). Even though petitions for naturalization filed prior to October 1906 typically contain less information than those filed after that date, these records can be an invaluable resource and remain some of our most requested records at the National Archives at New York City.

This series of Petitions for Naturalization newly added to the Catalog, contains copies of naturalization records for individuals who filed in Federal, state and local courts in New York from 1790 through 1906. As a general rule, the National Archives does not hold naturalization records created in State or local courts. However, because this series of records is comprised of copies of the originals, our New York office maintains petitions for naturalization filed through Federal, state, and local courts in New York City for the years 1794-1906.

This significant part of our naturalization collection was recently added to the Catalog. The entire series of petitions for naturalization filed through Federal, state, and local courts in New York City prior to October 1906 (over 598 records!) are available in the Catalog  in their entirely–the whole record! The records contain the petitioner’s name, age, place of birth, occupation, date and place of emigration.

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