By now you’ve likely seen the flurry of information about USCIS. Our records are at risk! RecordsNotRevenue is a grass roots campaign trying to stop the potential 492% increase at USCIS. If the fee hike passes, our records will be virtually inaccessible due to cost. These include A-files, C-files, Registry files, Visa files, and Alien Registration forms. And if these records are inaccessible, what’s next?
For anyone researching late 19th and 20th century immigrants, this is a HUGE roadblock. This impacts all of you researching Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, etc.) who immigrated during this time frame, Italian Americans seeking dual citizenship, Jewish Americans, Mexican Americans, War Brides, immigrants who were interned during WWII (Japanese, Germans, Italians), and others.
This is personal for me. My husband’s immigrant grandfather was incarcerated during WWII at Tuna Canyon, Lorsdburg New Mexico, Santa Fe New Mexico, and Crystal City Texas. His A-file was hundreds of pages long. Fortunately, I ordered his A-file a number of years ago. Last January, I had the opportunity to speak with Marian Smith. She advised me that my husband also had an A-file! What a surprise. It cost me $65, but if the fee increase is approved, it would become cost prohibitive.
I urge you to share this information with as many people as you know. Encourage them to post their comments to the USCIS portal NO LATER THAN DECEMBER 16. Please contact your senators and representatives, as well. We’ve only got 10 days left to comment.
The Washington Post published an article on this matter just yesterday, as did the board of directors at the Nichi Bei Foundation (Nichi Bei Weekly 5 December 2019).
Dear Friends in the Genealogy and Research Community,
U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently proposed a 492% increase in fees for access to historical records held by the USCIS Genealogy Program. Many of these records should already be publicly accessible. USCIS is essentially holding the documents hostage, demanding individuals pay exorbitant fees to access documents of our immigrant ancestors. This has a tremendous impact on anyone engaging in 20th century immigration research, most notably Asian immigrants.
Please share this post with genealogical societies and historical organizations and every family historian and researcher you know. Become part of the national effort among the genealogy community to fight these increases by sharing your opinions and a link to the www.recordsnotrevenue.com on Facebook, twitter, and other social media.
The price increases apply to the A-files, such as the one excerpted below. Instead of paying an already high $65 for a search, which has no guarantee of results, we would have to pay an exorbitant $240! If there is a paper file to be copied, it would be additional $385!
NOW is the time to make your voice heard! By submitting a comment, you can help prevent this unjust fee hike from becoming a reality. All researchers should care about the issues involved, even if your research does not include these records. What can be done to one set of records can be done to others!
Summary of the Issues:
Access: These fees – starting at $240 and up to a whopping $625 for a single file – are beyond the means of most researchers, and in fact, most everyday Americans. The fees are even more inexplicable given that USCIS refers most genealogy record requests to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) program for processing. How can this be legal? If these requests are FOIA requests, researchers should not pay any fees other than standard FOIA fees. When we pay these fees to request our ancestors’ A-files, there is no guarantee we will get anything back, so paying $240 is outrageous.
Transparency: USCIS proposes a raise in its two Genealogy Program fees from $65 to $240 and $385 but gives virtually no explanation. These same fees already tripled in 2016! How can this agency say such fees are necessary to cover costs when they do not identify nor breakdown the costs of the program? Fee increases of 269% and 492% require an explanation; in this regard the proposed rule is wholly inadequate.
Efficiency: Why is USCIS still holding on to and charging fees for access to records that should already be at the National Archives (NARA), or which already exist at NARA but are withheld from the public due to restrictions placed by USCIS? Do USCIS and NARA have any plans to transfer these historical records and make them available at NARA?
Visa Files and Registry Files, both subject to the proposed $625 total fee, became eligible for transfer to NARA in April 2019. Where are they? Does USCIS plan to collect $625 apiece when these records should already be available to the public at NARA?
Alien Registration Forms, subject to the proposed $240 fee, already exist on microfilm at NARA but remain unavailable because of a USCIS restriction. A-Files of immigrants born more than 100 years ago should be at NARA, as per its 2009 schedule. Why must we still request A-files from USCIS for new fees of up to $625?
can you do? Make your voice heard in 3 easy steps:
Step 1: Review the proposed rule here, and jump to the
Genealogy Program section here.
DNA is a popular tool among genealogists. Y-DNA gives us great insight into specific ancestors in a direct male line. I was able to prove a connection to a family in England dating back to 1733 with yDNA. Autosomal DNA is tremendous for looking at ethnic origins. I have learned much about my early northern European ancestors.
mtDNA follows a direct maternal line to ancient origins. So far, I have only proven my direct female line back to Esther Amelia Gillett. Thanks to photography, I know what seven generations of mtDNA looks like. Happy Mother’s Day.
What would you do if you were in a class of 40 colleagues, and one person used a racial slur, thinly veiled as a joke? Would you have the courage to stand up to that person? Or would you sit silently? Would you carefully explain why the words were offensive? Or would you laugh at the so-called “humor?” Would you tell that person that it doesn’t matter if the room is all white? Or would you agree that it is ok to use derogatory language, as long as there are no people of color present?
It shouldn’t matter if the room is all white. Racial slurs are always offensive. But we also need to realize that we really never know who is in our midst. Despite appearances, we are not all white or straight or Christian. We are Jews and Buddhists, we are Asians and Blacks and Latinos, we are in mixed-race relationships, we have mixed race children, we are LGBTQ.
I am proud of the colleague who stood up to racism. What would you do?
DNA is the hottest topic in genealogy. It seems that everyone I know is testing. I’ve got kits from several different companies ready to go when the relatives show up for the holidays. I even tested my dog! But do you wonder what the results actually tell you? Are the admixture (ethnicity) estimates accurate? What about the cousin predictions? What kinds of tools are available to help you understand your results? Are there ethical considerations with testing? Do you worry about privacy? Disclaimer: I don’t.
There are two big DNA events planned in northern California in 2018. The first is “A Day with the Genetic Genealogist: Blaine Bettinger.” Held at the David Brower Center in Berkeley on March 3, the day will feature four lectures and a catered buffet lunch by Greenleaf Platters. This seminar is sure to sell out and is one of the signature events planned in honor of the 120th anniversary of the California Genealogical Society. In November, the San Mateo Genealogical Society will host Genetic Genealogist, CeCe Moore, who will present a different line up of lectures.
Whether your ancestors came from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Pacific Rim, or the Americas, whether you can trace your ancestors back dozens of generations or you were adopted and don’t know your biological family, DNA has something for everyone. Join the fun and add DNA to your genealogy tool box.
Yoko Okazaki passed away peacefully on 2 December 2016 at the age of 85. She endured Parkinson’s disease for many years. Although her health declined, her spirit never did.
Yoko was born 21 November 1931 in the village of Yorishima, along the Inland Sea of Japan. Her parents were Tomoharu Miyake and Ocho Nakamura. Yoko was the third child of six. Her younger siblings, Kazumi and Akimasa, predeceased her. The family moved to Kurashiki when Yoko was about 3 years old. Her sisters recalled that she was outgoing and social as a child, and always eager to be photographed. Yoko met Tee in 1946, when she was 15. They married in 1952, when she was 20. He was the athletic American, a renunciate who moved to Japan with his Issei parents following their incarceration during WWII.
As a young woman, Yoko was trained and licensed in Ikenobo, a traditional form of Japanese flower arranging. Later, she developed a passion for both singing and gardening. While living in Japan, she especially enjoyed cultivating tomatoes and zucchini.
Tee and Yoko moved to California in 2001, living first in Moraga and then in Walnut Creek. Even in the final weeks of her life, Yoko found tremendous pleasure in her Walnut Creek garden
Yoko is survived by her two sons: Ted (Linda) and Denis (Denise); five grandchildren: Matthew, Samantha, Bryce, Mariko, and Carson; three sisters: Kyoko Ogo, Shoko Miyake, and Mayumi Miyake; sister-in-law Maru Hiratzka; brother-in-law Sid Okazaki (Yuki); and many nieces and nephews. Her husband, Tee, passed away in 2014.
A celebration of Yoko’s life will be held at Hull’s in Walnut Creek on Thursday December 29 at 11:00, followed by a luncheon. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to J-Sei (J-Sei.org/donate or 1285 66th St., Emeryville, CA 94608).
ProGen 22 was a wonderful experience, an 18-month “course” where small groups of genealogists completed monthly assignments, critiqued the work of their peers, and engaged in chat-sessions. One of the assignments was to create a master educational plan. As such, 2016 is my year of education.
My first class of the year was Beginning DNA at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. What a fabulous event. Peg Ivanyo was the SLIG coordinator. A week of learning, networking, and socializing really paid off. The course was led by genetic genealogist, Blaine Bettinger, and included lectures with Angie Bush and CeCe Moore. Two of the highlights of the week were extracting DNA from strawberries, and winning the UGA tagline contest. My prize? Getting into the 2017 SLIG class of my choice. The biggest problem will be selecting a course. There are an array of fantastic choices.
Looking for Ancestors but Finding Friends #SLIG2016
Next on the educational agenda was a guided research trip to the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, led by Jane Lindsey. I had two areas of focus. First, I researched the earliest Japanese students at Harvard. NEHGS has a collection of college annuals and I used these to develop brief biographical sketches on these interesting ex-pats. Second, I focused on my Calkins line. Although most publications indicate that my Amos Calkins (born Vermont, died New York) was the son of Levi Calkins of Vermont, I spent several days collecting indirect evidence.
With Brenton Simons at NEHGS
What’s next on my educational path? A guided research trip to Salt Lake City under the leadership of Lisa Gorrell and Jim Sorenson. I hope to collect additional evidence to prove my Calkins line. I also will spend some time on the British Isles floor researching my Orchard’s in 18th C Cornwall and my Prosser’s in 19th C London.
In June, I’m off to Jamboree, including DNA day. After attending the DNA institute at SLIG, I just can’t seem to get enough of this genetic genealogy. Jamboree will also include a ProGen get-together, a banquet with speaker David Rencher, and an opportunity to help the Nikkei Genealogical Society with Japanese consultations during the World Round Table sessions.
“Come as Your Favorite Ancestor” with Jane Neff Rollins
July is going to be full of travel and learning. First, I’ll fly to Washington DC for Gen-Fed (formerly the National Institute for Genealogical Research). This revamped course will focus on Federal Records. In the past, my research in DC has been all about WWII Internment Camp records. Now I have a chance to jump into the records of my own ancestors. This will be immediately followed by a flight to Pittsburg for the the Advanced DNA class at Grip! I’m nervous to attend this level of course, because I’m so new to DNA, but I’m also excited.
On February 19, 1942, then President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This legislation set the stage for approximately 120,000 ethnic Japanese to be incarcerated; the majority were American citizens. Many were initially housed in animal quarters at racetracks. Eventually, most were sent to live in “Internment Camps” located in remote areas of the United States. There were also camps in Canada and Australia, as well as Hawai‘i. Eventually, Germans, Italians, Japanese Peruvians and others were also held without due process, primarily in Department of Justice Camps. Some were intended to be used in a prisoner-of-war exchange.
Throughout the month of February, community events, special church services and film festivals will be held in honor of those unjustly imprisoned. In Los Angeles, the Skirball Cultural Center has on display camp photographs by Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams and Toyo Miyatake, which runs through February 21. The Nichi Bei Foundation will host an all-day Films of Remembrance on February 20. And on Sunday February 21, the National Japanese American Historical Society will hold an event in San Francisco. Commemorations will also be held across the country, including an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Densho has developed a “Teach-In” consisting of five free digital lessons about the internment experience.
If you aren’t familiar with Densho, be prepared to be impressed. The website states that “Densho’s mission is to preserve the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished. We offer these irreplaceable firsthand accounts, coupled with historical images and teacher resources, to explore principles of democracy, and promote equal justice for all.”
From January 11-15, 2016, I was immersed in the study of Beginning Genetic Genealogy, one of many tracks at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. Five hours a day for five consecutive days, a group of about forty eager students listened attentively as Blaine Bettinger, CeCe Moore and Angie Bush explained the ins and outs of DNA for genealogists. On the last day, the beginning and advanced classes merged to enjoy a hands-on activity of extracting DNA from crushed strawberries during our final lecture. It reminded me a little of Sister Christopher’s high school chemistry class. Fun!
I returned home with multiple DNA kits in hand. One was sent to an Etheridge cousin for a Y-dna study. Another was sent to an Okazaki cousin. An autosomal to another.
In the midst of this excitement I was invited to the home of yet another cousin to scan photos. Not just any photos. I am talking about very old photos from my Corville/Cullum line. In 2011, I used Y-DNA to prove the connection between my Corville line in San Francisco to an Emerson line in New South Wales, Australia. It was a perfect match. And now I have the photos to go with the DNA. I only hope I have as much luck with my Etheridge, Okazaki and Orchard Lines.
Here is a look at some Mitochondrial DNA:
Maria Prosser Cullum c 1867
Maria Cullum Corville c 1874
Tushia Corville Ambrose 1900
Ruth Margaret Ambrose Harms c 1920
For more information about Genetic Genealogy, I encourage you to look at the ISOGG wiki, or follow one of the many genetic genealogy blogs.