An exciting day yesterday, checking out the National Archives online to see if there are any records of Samuel. The first document was easy to find with a simple online search, a record of his naturalisation as a British citizen ‘Certificate AZ4586 issued 1 August 1934’. So it seems that he held on to his Lithuanian citizenship long after marrying my grandmother in the mid-1920s.
Things then got even more interesting, thanks to the online Chat service at the National Archives – which to my surprise was up and running between Christmas and New Year. They helpfully pointed me in the direction of a second document. This is obviously related to the first: ‘Nationality and Naturalisation: Grasse, Samuel, from Lithuania. Resident in London. Certificate AZ4586 issued 1 August 1934.’ but for some reason it is ‘Closed for 100 years’.
This begs the question, why is it closed? Is there additional information in this document that was deliberately kept secret, or was it simply a procedural matter that this part of his naturalization process was not made publicly available. Either way, I have submitted a Freedom of Information request using the helpful button on the Website. Now I have to wait for up to twenty days to find out whether the state is prepared to make this document public and, if so, what it says.
I came away extremely impressed with the website at the National Archive and with the online chat service they provide. As an academic librarian, I am always delighted to come across highly accessible information combined with excellent support staff. The National Archive scores top marks on both counts.