Man on quest to restore grandmother's citizenship 87 years after her death

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A Minneapolis man is seeking to re-establish the citizenship of his deceased Minnesota-born grandmother, who was stripped of it nearly 100 years ago by a little-known law, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

Elsie Knutson Moren was born in Skibo Township, between Brimson and Embarrass, and lived in the state until she died in 1926, at the age of 35, from complications of child birth, the newspaper reports.

Her grandson Daniel Swalm, while doing some family research in 2008, discovered that the Expatriation Act of 1907 revoked citizenship for women who married an unnaturalized immigrant. Among other indignities, Moren had been unable to vote in 1920 when the passage of the 19th Amendment gave women the right to cast a ballot.

“That really frosts me,” Swalm said.

His grandmother had married Carl Moren in 1914, who immigrated from Sweden in 1911, Swalm wrote in a guest column in the Star Tribune, where he offers more details of her story. The two danced, fell in love, were married and had three kids, he wrote. They lived a quiet life until she died a noncitizen, he said.

One expert tells the News Tribune that tens of thousands of women were divested of their citizenship as a result of the Expatriation Act of 1907. It wasn't until 1940 that Congress scrapped the last bits of the 1907 legislation, Swalm noted.

Now Swalm is appealing to Congress for a posthumous restoration of the women's citizenship, or at the least, an official apology. To increase awareness of his campaign, he created a “Justice for Elsie” Facebook page.

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