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Immigration, Identity, and Genealogy: A Case Study

Department of History, The University of Texas—Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX 78539-2999, USA
Genealogy 2019, 3(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3010001
Received: 31 August 2018 / Revised: 15 December 2018 / Accepted: 18 December 2018 / Published: 2 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogy and Immigration)
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PDF [240 KB, uploaded 2 January 2019]

Abstract

This paper examines the life and experiences of a 19th-century immigrant from the British Isles to the United States and his family. It examines his reasons for immigrating, as well as his experiences after arrival. In this case, the immigrant chose to create a new identity for himself after immigration. Doing so both severed his ties with his birth family and left his American progeny without a clear sense of identity and heritage. The essay uses a variety of sources, including oral history and folklore, to investigate the immigrant’s origins and examine how this uncertainty shaped the family’s history in the 19th and 20th centuries. New methodologies centering on DNA analysis have recently offered insights into the family’s past. The essay ends by positing a birth identity for the family’s immigrant ancestor. Importantly, the family’s post-immigration experiences reveal that the immigrant and his descendants made a deliberate effort to retain aspects of their pre-immigration past across both time and distance. These actions underscore a growing body of literature on the limits of post-immigration assimilation by immigrants and their families, and indicate the value of genealogical study for analyzing the immigrant experience. View Full-Text
Keywords: immigration; identity; genealogy; name-change immigration; identity; genealogy; name-change
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Knight, T.D. Immigration, Identity, and Genealogy: A Case Study. Genealogy 2019, 3, 1.

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