In the United States naturalization is the process of an alien becoming a citizen and gaining access to the rights and liberties of the land. Naturalization records can boast rich detail, ultimately supplying not only the immigration date but the names, ages and addresses of family members in addition to signatures and affidavits from witnesses, current and past residences and birth information.
In any “court of record” prior to 1906, it was possible for an alien to be naturalized as an American. Many immigrants began the citizenship process by filing papers with the county they first arrived in. It was common for an immigrant to then finish the naturalization records requirements in the final state and county they ended up. This results in challenge for family members looking for the naturalization records of their ancestors. More and more of these naturalization records are being made accessible via online portals such as SearchQuarry.com.
Because the process of naturalization describes the way in which an alien becomes an American, naturalization records have been deemed very important for genealogy research. After 1906, the Declaration of Intention contained some information and was reported to have incorrect information about names and their correct spelling. However, Petitions for Naturalization contains information that has been verified and matched to an immigration record.
As we have been discussing, prior to 1906 any “court of record” – that is, municipal, county, state or Federal – has the ability to grant citizenship, however the National Archives might not have naturalization records created in state or local courts. It is helpful to know where the naturalization took place and contact the county or state archives. With this in mind a good place to start is to Contact the National Archives
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