As I started working on the genealogy stuff for my father's side of the family, I got to thinking about being an immigrant.
This half of my family tree is full of relatively new comers to the shores of America. I am hard pressed to find an ancestor on this side that arrived before 1850.
This is a very different story from my mother's side, where most all of the branches have deeper roots in America....deeper by 200+ years and such.
My paternal immigrants came over, mostly from Ireland, in the latter part of the 19th century, the earliest that I can find so far, having arrived in 1850.
From those immigrants came my paternal families' 1st American born ancestors. On my father's paternal side, my 2 x Great Grandmother was born in 1854, her future husband in 1861 and a Great Grandmother on the other branch in 1885. On my father's maternal side, my paternal grandmother was her family's first member born on American soil in 1909. That's barely 100 years ago!
But I digress.....
I noticed while going through the census information that not all my paternal ancestors elected to become full fledged citizens. Or rather, there is no evidence in the census rolls of them becoming naturalized. Granted many of them were older and may have died before getting around to it. Just staying alive and earning a living wage was a much more pressing need in those earlier times.
And my ancestors didn't have the added obstacle of learning a new language once they arrived too.
This got me thinking about what an immigrant coming to our shores 100 or 150 years ago had to do to become a citizen. It has turned out to be very interesting reading how the laws have changed(or not changed)over time.
If you arrived before 1790(the date of the first legislation dealing with immigration), there was little required of you.
Part of the process of becoming a naturalized citizen of the USA now, involves passing a written test about our country and government. Anyone who's passed a high school Civics course should be able to pass this test.
It's been 35 years since I left high school so I was curious to see how difficult the test was and how much I had retained from my time in my Government course in 11th grade.
Except for misreading 1 question and getting it wrong(it is something I do know...honest!lol), I passed with flying colors.
I must say that taking this test orally before an Immigration Officer and NOT having it be multiple choices based would actually be a bit harder.
If you are brave enough, you can try the same test below. Just imput your name and hit