Wednesday, October 10, 2012

DAR and Lithuanian Citizenship

from Ghosts of the Pines
Well, my new presentation was well received by the Mt. Diablo DAR chapter.  I spoke about my Revolutionary War ancestor, who was a drummer for his New Jersey unit, and his brother, a Loyalist who stayed in the colonies and was hung for treason.  I'm eligible for DAR through my ancestor, and eligible for the International Black Sheep Society of Genealogists because they accept a sibling of an ancestor.  What is particularly ironic is that my ancestor died destitute and has been almost forgotten, but his brother lives on in legends, comic books, and a documentary.  I don't even know if my ancestor has a surviving tombstone, but his brother's grave marker is replaced when it disappears.

After my talk, I went to the Oakland FamilySearch Library to do some research but ended up helping someone who came in looking for advice on how to prove his grandmother was Lithuanian, so he can claim Lithuanian citizenship.  I wrote recently about the right of return and my experience researching someone's Italian ancestry.  Apparently the Lithuanian requirements are similar to the Italian, including eligibility up through a great-grandparent (though the information on the Wikipedia page is singularly uninformative).  One aspect relating to eligibility is proving that the ancestor was a Lithuanian while Lithuania was an independent country, between 1918-1940.  His grandmother was living in Lithuania at that time, and there was a 1923 national census, so I recommended he try to find out if the census has survived and has information about individuals.  There's also the possibility of finding a civil birth registration (his grandmother was born when Lithuania was part of the Russian Empire), or maybe the visa issued by Lithuania when his grandmother left to immigrate to the United States.

An interesting quirk in this patron's situation is that his great-grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1913, while Lithuania was part of the Russian Empire, but did not apply for U.S. citizenship until 1922.  When the great-grandfather submitted his Declaration of Intention to become a citizen, he renounced citizenship and allegiance to Russia.  So I'm wondering what his citizenship status was from 1918-1922, when Lithuania was independent but he had not renounced any citizenship.  Was he Lithuanian?  Russian?  Stateless?

7 comments:

  1. I can't get to the link about your ancestor, because it's on Linked-in and I don't have an account there. Is there somewhere else you can point us to?

    The statelessness issue is interesting. If you find out anything more about it, I'd be interested to hear.

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  2. I apologize about the LinkedIn link. I was hesitant to use the DAR link because they spelled my last name wrong:
    http://www.dar-mtdiablochapter.org/events

    I'm planning on following up on the great-grandfather's citizenship question myself, just to find out and satisfy my curiosity. I'll post what I learn.

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  3. A Latvian researcher I am in contact with sent me information about the citizenship question. According to what he wrote, the great-grandfather was probably stateless, as the U.S. dropped its recognition of the Russian Republic (and had not yet recognized Soviet Russia). He said that former Russian nationals in Latvia between the wars were considered stateless, and Lithuania was probably treated the same.

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    1. can one get latvian or lithuanian citizenship if y husband's dad was born in Lithuania, but went to Latvia to live, when he was 5years old?

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    2. What was your husband's father's citizenship status before leaving Lithuania? Was he born in Lithuania? When did he leave Lithuania to live in Latvia? Did he remain a Lithuanian citizen, or did he become a Latvian citizen? These are all important questions whose answers will help determine your husband's eligible for citizenship.

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  4. Does that mean that through my grandmother who left Lithuania in 1915 I am not eligible for citizenship? And if she only renounced her Lithuanian citizenship when she got married (in 1920s) but lived all that time in a different country? Will that make a difference?

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    Replies
    1. According to the information I have read, you are not eligible. One of the points that is very clear is that the ancestor had to have been living in Lithuania when it was an independent country, between 1918-1940.

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