Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tuesday's Tip: Ewald Pape's C-File

I initially requested the citizenship file (C-file) of my architect first-cousin-twice-removed Ewald Theodore Pape (1894-1976) from the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) back in early October, 2015, shortly after I had received Ewald's A-File (Alien Case File) from the National Archives.  Their index search (cost then:  $20) was successful, although it took them until February 8, 2016, to write a letter to notify me.  I ordered the actual file (cost then:  $35) almost immediately upon receipt of that letter, at the end of February, 2016.

Almost 16 MONTHS later, I received a letter telling me the file was "lost and/or missing."  However, I was also told they were "working with the records holding facility to rectify this issue through record reconciliations and auditing procedures.  This process 'finds' previously lost files every day, thus another Record Request in future could yield a different result."

Uh-huh.  They refunded the $35 - but a new Record Request now cost $65.  The cynic in me was convinced it was only "lost" because of the rate raise.

After reading in a Facebook genealogy group about the success some others were having getting records (and more quickly than 16 months) under the new fee structure, I resubmitted my request - and $65 - on May 18, 2018.

I recently received a letter dated June 7 with the records.  I was disappointed that my $65 only got five pages - three of which were the 1936 Declaration of Intent and 1941 Petition for Naturalization already available on Ancestry.com.  There was a copy of a case file computer punch card (pretty useless) too.  The only other item in the file was his certificate of naturalization (click it to enlarge):

Needless to say, I am VERY disappointed.  Even the copies of the Petition and Declaration are not as good as what's on Ancestry, because USCIS redacted some information - despite the fact that I sent proof of the death of Ewald's son (per the FAQ), and the two witnesses would be long dead and no longer living at their redacted addresses.

I was also disappointed because I thought the file would have far more in it.  I was hoping for information on exactly *why* he was arrested in January 1942.  The USCIS' image gallery for C-Files led me to believe there would be far more in the file than there was.  Now I wonder if the FBI has a file on him that I should request.

I guess the only other thing I got for my $85 ($20 search and $65 retrieval) was another photograph of Ewald:

So my tip for this Tuesday?  Thoroughly scour all the possible sources for your immigrant's paperwork (Ancestry, FamilySearch, and records at the state, county, and city level, and the National Archives) BEFORE you spend any money with USCIS.

© Amanda Pape - 2018 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. The photo and signature are nice to have, but I would have expected a lot more for this new higher fee. I'm putting USCIS on the back burner for now. Thanks for posting.