The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Gaining husband cost citizenship for women in early 20th century

By Sam Brouse/reporter

An archivist told NE students March 21 how marriage cost women their citizenship in the early 1900s.

Meg Hacker, a director at the National Archives in Fort Worth, discussed repatriation oaths and explained how marriage even changed women’s nationalities because of a bill passed in 1907.

“Any American woman who marries a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband,” the bill read.

“In 1907, the only way American women could regain citizenship was to go through the full naturalization process, but only if the marriage is terminated,” Hacker said.

The naturalization process consisted of going down to the post office or police station, swearing allegiance to America and denouncing any country the woman had formerly sworn allegiance to, which was often none. She said this was not a hard task, but the women often did not know they were considered another nationality.

During this time, Italian-born Louis Laneri married a woman who was born and reared in Fort Worth. Once she became his wife, Mary Laneri also became an Italian. Although Louis later filed his papers to become an American citizen, his wife Mary Laneri remained Italian. By 1922, Louis Laneri’s papers had been approved, but Mary Laneri was still considered an Italian. She stayed Italian her whole life because she never filed her repatriation oaths.

To her knowledge, Hacker said these women were not told they had lost their citizenship. They would find out by being denied American rights.

For Hacker, the most amazing part of her job is using documents and past repatriation oaths to figure out the lives and stories of local citizens.

“This information is like a puzzle where I have some of the pieces,” she said, “And perhaps you guys can help me find the rest of the pieces to fill in the blanks.”

—Sam Brouse


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