While passenger arrival lists and naturalization records
are the most useful of federal records for recent immigrants, there
are many other records of value, created by the federal government.
Generally these records are not so comprehensive -- only certain segments
of the population were designed to be included. However, the information
they provide is quite complete, so if your immigrant ancestors are listed,
you will almost surely learn the name of the town where they were born.
Keep in mind the concepts discussed in our earlier
lessons regarding accurately reading the place names you eventually
find. In one recent case, two modern documents gave a lady's birth place
in Bohemia. On the death record, the place appeared to have been spelled
Gice, while on the naturalization record, it appeared to be Hici. Since
the Bohemian gazetteers listed no places with similar spellings under
those initial letters, we considered other possibilities, while considering
Czech pronunciation. When written in cursive as a capital letter,the
letter "Z" has some similarity to "G" and to "H." Using this possibility,
we located the town of ZÝc, or Zic, also spelled Sichs (in German).
Even then, we were not convinced this was the right town until we learned
that it was in the same district (Trebon or Wittengau) as where her
husband had been born.
Modern U.S. records were often written by persons not
familiar with the place names or languages of many modern immigrants
(who tended to come from southern and eastern Europe).