My grandmother’s immigration records – at long last!

When you start a family history project you have this dream of finding the very moment when your ancestor first set foot in America. In practice, this can be extremely frustrating. There are all kinds of indexes and databases, from to, to help you sort through the millions of immigrants who came to this country. Some people must have luck with them. But for me it has not been easy.

In an earlier post, I wrote about my grandfather Alex Kowal’s trip from Ukraine through Canada to the United States. The records for that journey were hiding in plain sight on, but it was only when I obtained a copy of his 1940 petition for naturalization that my fruitless searching came to an end.

Similarly, I could not find my grandmother Katarzyna Bosakowska’s records even though I was pretty sure she came through Ellis Island in April 1912. I could find more than a dozen of her siblings and cousins, but not her.

My grandmother never did become a naturalized citizen, but I recently learned that she probably had to register under the Alien Registration Act of 1940. To find out whether she did, I paid $20 for a record search on the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. After they reported back that there was indeed an Alien Registration Form for my grandmother, I ordered that for another $20 fee.

It took a couple of months to get it, but Katarzyna’s Alien Registration Form, dated September 6, 1940, provided the information I was looking for.

Katarzyna wrote that she arrived in the U.S. on April 28, 1912 on the SS Kaiser Auguste Victoria. That wasn’t quite right, but it was close. She actually arrived on April 26, 1912 on the SS Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, named after the wife of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.

On her Alien Registration Form, my grandmother also stated that she was a citizen or subject of Austria, the country of her birth. That was rather poignant because, in 1940, there no longer was an independent country of Austria. It had been absorbed into Nazi Germany in the 1938 Anschluss. After the break up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1919, her hometown of Zalozce became part of the newly reconstituted Poland. But in 1940 Poland was gone too. After the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact and the Nazi invasion of Poland, Zalozce became part of the Soviet Union. (I can only imagine how frightening this all must have been for my grandmother’s friends and relatives still remaining in Zalozce.)

So what was Katarzyna’s citizenship status in 1940? Was she a citizen of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union? Was she stateless?

Anyway, back to my grandmother’s journey to America, here are two pages from the passenger manifest for the SS Kaiserin Auguste Victoria (click the images to enlarge). My grandmother is listed as Katarzyna Bosalowska on line 15.

And here is my grandmother on the list of aliens detained until a friend or relative could come to get them (click to enlarge). She is listed on line 84.

I’ll write more about my grandmother’s trip in an upcoming piece about the second wave of Bosakowskis to come to America, following up a post on my grandmother’s cousins who came to New York between 1905-10.

This entry was posted in Family Line - Bosakowski, New York City, Zalozce/Zaliztsi and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to My grandmother’s immigration records – at long last!

  1. Paulo says:

    My father was born in Zalozce in 1925. Do you have any picture of Zalozce at that time? Thank you!

    • johnkowal says:

      I don’t have very many photos myself although I am hoping to collect them. If you do web searches for both Zalozce and Zaliztsi (the Ukrainian name for the town) you will find some.
      There is one good gallery page of old Zalozce photos on the Olejow na Podolu website. The captions are written in Polish though. Here’s the link:


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  3. Bea says:

    We have 4 family members that also travelled on SS Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, starting in Hamburg April 16, 1912
    Arriving April 26, 1912 in Southamptonon New York
    They travelled 3rd class,
    Have found records for the mother and her two sons, there is no records what so ever for the 11 year old girl.
    Even Eliss Island has no records.

    • johnkowal says:

      That’s quite a coincidence. Where did you family members come from?
      I have found the ship records to be terribly frustrating so I’m not surprised that you’ve hit a wall finding a record for the girl. Are you sure they came together? I have tracked the comings and goings of nearly 20 of my grandmother’s family members. In one case, a younger brother came over on a boat one week after his older brother did – and he was broke. Why? In another case, a couple went through customs leaving a younger cousin behind to go through an immigration hearing alone.
      Did you read through every page of the manifest? Perhaps the family got separated – maybe there was a medical issue. Sometimes, sadly, someone just slips through the cracks.

  4. Bea says:

    On the “Record of Detained” what does the numbers mean under manifest
    Groups – Numbers
    This is what I was told by someone at Eliss island: The only persons “missed” and so not included on the Ship’s Passenger Manifest were people who didn’t pay their fare – they were called stowaways.
    As your grandmother my group also was on the ship 3rd class
    They are from Austria


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