For many months I’ve been trying in vain to find time to sort out and properly follow up the precious scraps of information I gleaned from various sources at the beginning of this project, which coincided with the start of an incredibly hectic academic year. At last the summer vacation provides a breathing space, so the first thing I want to do is properly to acknowledge the great help and encouragement provided to me by the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, who were the first organization I contacted.
I was thrilled to receive an immediate reply from Harvey Kaplan, SJAC’s director, saying that just four years ago he’d done research into the history of the Glasgow Jewish Student’s Society as part of the preparation for its centenary celebrations. Samuel Grasse had been elected its first President in 1911 and Mr Kaplan had been President some sixty-six years later, so he’d taken a personal interest and written a centenary brochure which mentioned Samuel, a copy of which he very kindly sent me. At that time he’d done some research into Samuel’s life and was able to provide me with some key information:
It’s been some months since I updated this blog, mainly due to lack of time but partly due to the shock of what happened after I submitted my Freedom of Information request to the National Archives (see my post 2 January).
As promised, the FOI request was processed within twenty days and I received the exciting news that the Home Office had agreed to release the document. The next step was to pay the £8.40 fee for a ‘page check’, so that a member of staff could view it and send me an estimate of copying costs. At £1.10 per page copied this is a useful precautionary step. As the helpful man at the live chat service had warned me ‘our record copying team cannot search within files for pages that may or may not be relevant. Your options are either to have the whole file copied, or to specify the exact page numbers you want copying.’
When the page check result came through some days later, giving an estimated copying cost of around £250, I realized that my only option was to travel to the National Archives in person. I could then search through the file myself for the pages that referred to my grandfather. Continue reading
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’. Continue reading