Petition for Naturalization

My great-grandmother, Anna Eidelman, was born in Portland, Maine in 1901. She was the only one of my mother’s grandparents born in America, her parents having arrived from Russia only a few years before she was born. But she was not a US citizen all her life.
This document is her petition for naturalization. Her name appears as “Annie,” though I’ve mostly heard her called “Anne,” and census documents list her as “Anna.” But much more striking than the name discrepancy is the fact that this document exists at all. 
In 1919, she married a recent immigrant from Russia, my great-grandfather. But in the years between her birth and her wedding, the Expatriation Act of 1907 had been passed. She lost her citizenship by marrying an immigrant. 1920, the first full year of her marriage, included the first presidential election in which women could vote. But she was suddenly living as a foreign national in the country where she was born.
This naturalization petition was filed twenty years later, on September 11th, 1939. No one remembers the precise circumstances of her decision to go to the courthouse, but it’s easy to imagine that the breakout of World War Two just 10 days prior had something to do with it.
My grandfather was 19 at the time. He never forgot his mother’s experience. He has passed on his memory of the punitive immigration laws of the early 1900s to his children and grandchildren, as well as the importance of applying the lessons of the past to the policies of the present.

Place(s): Boston, Portland, Russia
Year: 1919

– Daniel Walber

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more