I have since spoken to someone in the Philadelphia consulate, and the "Americanization" of my great grandfather's first name seems to be a problem (even though I didn't think it would be).
My great grandfather was born in Italy as Saverio Calabretta, but was known as Samuel Calabretta in the US. His US naturalization papers say Samuel.
The man at the consulate says the names are too different (if it was Roberto -> Robert, for example, it would have been ok). So my question is, how do I go about proving that this is indeed the same person? I always thought that there was no legal name change in most of these cases...that people just gradually assimilated and assumed a new name. But perhaps I am wrong?
Did immigrants generally file legal name change requests before obtaining citizenship? If so, would I find these records in the county courthouse, or would these records be kept in Washington DC?
I ran into the same problem with my father. The consulate would not accept the Americanized name he has been using all his life (Enrico/Harry). My father was kind enough to apply for a legal "change of name" so that his birth certificate can be altered.
Is it at all possible to get a change of name for someone who is no longer alive? Perhaps with the records you have (birth certificate, marriage certificate, death certificate) it is possible to do this. At least it's worth a try. You probably won't be able to change his birth certificate, but an official name change might be acceptible to the consulate.
BTW, it's unlikely that your great grandfather made a legal name change himself. He just began using that name as did my father (me too--my name on all documents is different from that on my birth certificate).
It wasn't a big deal many years ago. Today it is an issue. Don't spin your wheels trying to find an official name change. See if you can do it now. If you can't, try to obtain a sequence of documents that will make a connection (either through birth date, parents' names, etc.)
I know that I had to do it in the county in which I live and so did my father, so I would guess you're right. You may want to contact the county clerk in your own county for more information. They may be able to also tell you whether it's possible to do this.
In the meantime, I would try to gather as many connecting records as I can. This is a frustrating problem, and I wish you luck in dealing with it.
My gg-grandfather's name was Francesco Saverio Gamberale. However, I've come across references to his children (at least the ones who came here) referring to him as "Sam" Gamberale. At the time this puzzled me so I "googled" the combination of names and found quite a few people listed as "Saverio 'Sam'". Several of them had surnames that occur often in my family's part of the Alta Molise. I also found several sites that listed both "Xavier" and "Sam" (not Samuel) as American equivalents of Saverio. Could this be a regional thing?
It seems a good translation of the name, but the consulates make their own decisions as to whether or not they will accept it. For example, my father's name "Enrico" translates to "Henry." I've found much documentation showing that "Harry" is an alternate form of "Henry." (Two degrees of separation I guess ) The consulate was not impressed with my documentation, so it was necessary to get a legal name change.
There are, unfortunately many inconsistencies in the citizenship process. What is acceptible in one consulate may not be acceptable in another. Some consulates will accept Petitions of Naturalization and Oaths of Allegiance; some insist on the actual certificate. Some want documentation from ancestors who are not in the direct line; some don't ask for this. The name thing seems to be just another area where consulates use their own discretion. Thus, depending on where you live, the process can be relatively easy or exceedingly difficult.
My grandfathers name was Saverio. His naturalization papers his name is Saverio, but he was called Sam here in the U.S. His son my father was named Sam (americanized) after his father. Saverio's grandson was named Xavier. Supposedly another italian version of the name.
I have a cousin that named his child Saverio after his ggrandfather.
Incredible isn't it? We all know these name translations are legitimate, but often Italian consulates don't accept them. Why? Maybe they honestly don't see the connection (Roberto to Robert, for example is easy to recognize). Maybe they happen to be in a bad mood that particular day. Maybe they are inundated with applications and want to get rid of a few. In any case, we often have to "jump through hoops" to satisfy sometimes arbitrary requirements.
The thing that is somewhat strage to me is that requirements for something as important as citizenship can vary so greatly from consulate to consulate....and even from person to person. It's surprising that there isn't more uniformity.
To give them their due, however, Italian citizenship laws are quite liberal. Your great great grandfather who was born in Italy can pass citizenship to you even if you, your father and your grandfather never set foot in Italy, even if he is the only Italian relative you had, just as long as the dates are ok.
The consulates are being inundatated with applications ever since dual citizenship was permitted, and I guess they are getting a little tired of it all. I really can't blame them, although it makes things difficult.
I'm in the process too, and I hope to get things done as quickly as possible, because I honestly believe that these citizenship laws will not be so liberal in the future.