For this week’s Veterans’ Day-themed post, I am going to depart from our usual practice of focusing on images, documents, and stories that Library of Virginia archivists uncover as we process collections. Instead, I would like to share the story of Cecelia Graham and how a chance conversation with my wife led to the emotional discovery of the World War II Separation Notice of Cecelia’s father.
The Virginia World War II Separation Notices was one of the first collections I processed at the Library of Virginia; it contains approximately 250,000 notices for World War II veterans discharged between 1942 and 1950 (with the bulk between 1944 and 1946) who sought employment in Virginia. A disastrous 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis destroyed a large percentage of Army and Army Air Force records in federal custody for veterans discharged between 1912 and 1960. The LVA’s collection of separation notices became invaluable to Virginia’s servicemen and their families after the fire.
These records have been part of the Library’s archival collection since 1950 but they were in no order and the Library did not have the resources to process them. I recognized the importance of the collection and, being young and impatient, I was determined to do “something” about it. That “something” turned into the largest filing project in the LVA’s history. … read more »
On November 3, a naturalization ceremony will be held at the Library of Virginia. A group of people from various nations will take an oath declaring their allegiance to the United States. The coming ceremony prompted me to investigate the extent of naturalization records in the Local Records collection. We have naturalization records for approximately 30 localities. You would expect to find naturalization records in some localities such as Newport News, Portsmouth, and Norfolk County because of their location along the coast. However, LVA has naturalization records for western localities as well including Roanoke County, Russell County, and Rockingham County. The bulk of the records are dated before 1906. The reason being that prior to 1906, the naturalization process was the responsibility of local and state courts.
The predominant documents found in the naturalization records are the declarations of intent. An immigrant seeking U.S. citizenship would first file this document in which the applicant declared his or her intent to become a citizen and renounced allegiance to a foreign government. Information found in the declaration included name of applicant, place of birth, date of birth, age, and name of the ruler to which he or she renounced allegiance. A person could declare intent to become a citizen at any time and in any place after arriving in the United … read more »