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Clarendon Native Applies For Citizenship

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Catalog Information

Clarendon Native Applies For Citizenship
Accession Number
Date Added
8/3/2020 4:52:23 PM
Gift of
Robert Underhill
Collection Title
Collection Description
Robert Underhill
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The ironclad citizenship anyone born in the US today enjoys was not always the case.  In 1907 the Expatriation Act was passed which caused women who married non-US citizens to assume her new husband's citizenship.  And so it came to pass in 1919 that Velma (Flanders) Powers came to lose her US citizenship when she married Canadian Stanley Cook.

Velma Flanders was born in Clarendon in 1878 to Wallace Marcellus Flanders (1831 - 1904) and Sarah Ann (Rooks) Flanders (1834 - 1897).  She was the youngest of 13 children.  Her father Wallace was a farm laborer in East Clarendon. 

In 1900 Velma is found living in a boarding house in Boston and working as a waitress.  She married William Powers (1865 - ) in Revere, MA in 1904.  He was employed as a clerk at the time.  Whether William and Velma divorced or William died is not known but in 1919 Velma married Canadian Stanley Cook (1874 - 1945) in Boston.  Stanley was a native of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.  Under the Expatriation Act of 1907, Velma was then no longer considered a US citizen.  At some point Velma and Stanley moved to Nova Scotia, residing in Bridgewater where Stanley had come from.  In 1925 they moved back to the US. 

The Cable Act of 1922 changed the citizenship rules again.  Now American women who married non-citizens could retain their US citizenship so long as the man she married was eligible to become a US citizen.  At the time Asians were not eligible for example.  Women like Velma who had previously lost her citizenship did not automatically have it restored however but rather had to apply to be naturalized.  Velma made such an application in August 1938 and was approved for naturalization in March 1939.

In 1930 Velma and Stanley were living in a boarding house in Boston.  Stanley was working as a manager at a restaurant.  They moved to St. Petersburg, FL in 1940 where Stanley died in 1945.  Velma died in St. Petersburg in 1971 at age 93.