Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday's Tip ~ Losing American Citizenship by Marriage

I have been doing some research for a sister-in-law and came across an interesting item that doesn't occur in my husband's ancestry (or mine).

The following image is from the 1920 U.S. Census. The household is for my sister-in-law's great-grandmother, Sadie (Brubaker) (Glazer) Anderson and her second husband. They were living in Camden, New Jersey.

Sadie (also known as Sarah) first married in 1898, to George F. Glazer, who also was born in Pennsylvania. They had several (maybe eight) children together before they divorced. As this census record shows, by 1920, Sarah/Sadie (Brubaker) Glazer had married Agustus Anderson. The household also includes two of her children from her first marriage, Cora Glazer (age 20) and Alice Glazer (age 7), as well as Elinor Anderson, a daughter of Agustus, but I'm not sure who her mother is (Sadie or a first wife of Agustus).

Year: 1920; Census Place: Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1022;Page: 9A;
Enumeration District: 8; Image: 127. Record for Agustus and Sadie Anderson.
The census tells me the following:
Anderson, Agustus, Head of Household, Owns his home, with mortgage, is 38 years old, born in Denmark, about 1882. He immigrated in 1910, and "Pa" means he has his papers; he is NOT a U.S. citizen, but has filed his intention to become a citizen.

Anderson, Sadie, Wife, is 36 years old, born in Pennsylvania, about 1884. Note the columns that indicate immigration year and citizenship. Agustus has "1910" and "Pa" and below that, Sadie has "x" and "Al."

Obviously since Sadie was born in Pennsylvania, she doesn't have a year of immigration, but by marrying an alien (non-citizen), Sadie lost her citizenship and wouldn't regain it until (or if) her husband, Augustus, became a citizen. This was the law at the time, and the logic behind the law was that if women couldn't vote, then their citizenship status wasn't that important. 

However, in August 1920, when women won the right to vote, it was deemed patently unfair that a woman could lose her citizenship and that right to vote by marrying a non-citizen. It took a couple of years, but in September 1922, immigration law changed, giving a woman the right to retain her citizenship (and that important right to vote) even if she married a non-citizen.

For those women who married an immigrant who did not become a citizen (or died before becoming a citizen), they had to complete paperwork to prove they were born in the U.S. and wanted to regain their citizenship rights. Alternatively, as in the case of Sadie, her second husband did become a naturalized citizen (according to the 1930 U.S. census), so she became a citizen again.


  1. My grandmother (of 100% American Colonial Ancestry) married an Australian. When became a citizen, so did she (again). Her citizen application was detailed, and very helpful.

    1. If before 1922, she would be listed on her husband's citizenship application (I haven't found Gus Anderson's application yet), but yes, after 1922, she would have her own and they can be a wealth of information.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Elizabeth,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2015/02/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-february-13.html

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Great article. Many people have NO clue that women would have lost their citizenship when they married immigrants.

    1. That's exactly why I wanted to share this record. All voters, especially women, should recognize the importance of citizenship and voting.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.