Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sheva Baich and My First A-File

I've already done an Ancestor Deep Dive on my great grandmother Sheva Fine Baich.  But I recently received her A-file via the USCIS Genealogy program which contained a treasure trove of information on her, and some photographs that I'd never seen before.

While still in Germany, she applied for a visa.  The document verified her parents' names (my grandmother had been pretty sure of Sheva's mother's maiden name but had not been positive) and gives details of where she was during WWII.  Interestingly, Sheva consistently puts her married life as taking place in Lutsk whereas her daughter Sonia has always maintained that the family lived in Horochov.
Sheva Baich Application for US Visa, January 1947 (page 1)

The United Nations officials who ran her Displaced Persons (DP) Camp, Neu-Freimann, verified that she was not a troublemaker.
UNRRA Neu-Freiman - Sheva Baich has not had police interactions

Unfortunately her birth and marriage records were not included in the file; instead there was a certification that they were not available.
Certification for Sheva Baich of Lack of Vital Records :(
To prove that Sheva would not become a burden on the United States, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) affirmed that they would be responsible for her.
HIAS Affidavit for Sheva Baich, January 1947
Upon arriving in the United States on April 1, 1947, Sheva's visa and identity were checked and verified--and a picture was included on this document as well:
Sheva Baich Immigration Document
Once she arrived in America, Sheva needed to register as an alien:
Sheva Baich Alien Registration Form, 1947
 She then began the process to become a United States citizen.  She applied for a certificate of arrival and filled out preliminary form for her declaration of intention.  On this document again are her parents' names, information about her immigration process, and another picture; she also explains that she changed her name's spelling from Szewa Bajcz to Sheva Baich because "it was more Americanized":

Sheva Baich Application for Certificate of Arrival and Preliminary Form for a Declaration of Intention, 1947

Sheva never became a citizen--she died in 1951, just over 4 years after arriving to America.  I was shocked (and thrilled) at how much information did exist for her in this file.


  1. Very cool! My family came earlier, so these kinds of documents are all new to me.

    p.s. I used to know someone whose parents were named Baitch (not sure how they spelled it). They lived in the Cheswolde neighborhood (around 30 years ago). Could they be related to you?

    1. Could be? Any idea where they were from originally? I've also not been able to find a male Baitch cousin to yDNA test like I have with most of my other lines. My grandmother's only brother died in early childhood, and she had only aunts on her paternal side.

  2. No, I don't have any idea where they were from. I worked with their daughter Bonnie, a nursery school teacher. I don't know if Bonnie still lives around here, but I can check and let you know.

    1. The Baitch's of Cheswolde also had a daughter, Phyllis Feldman (Irving) who worked at Beth El, and they moved to a warmer climate years ago. There was "mad man" Baitch (Abe), the musician, who recently passed away.

    2. Hello, Anonymous--do I know you? The nursery school where Bonnie and I taught was Beth El. The name Phyllis Feldman sounds familiar, but I don't remember her.

      BTW, I checked public records and found that Bonnie moved to a different location some years ago. I haven't had a chance to call her yet, but will try tomorrow. I found a phone no., but I don't know whether it's still valid.

    3. Still working on it. Several leads have not panned out. Awaiting an email reply, possibly tomorrow

  3. What a treasure trove! you are very fortunate!