Naturalization

For those new to this blog who arrived here due to links from other sites, please be sure to check out other postings on this site, check out the B&F Forms System (which has several inter-connected computer-fillable PDF forms) and the Enhanced Genealogy Search (a custom search engine that returns more focused results for genealogy searches).

If you like this page, please press the Google +1 button

Finding US Naturalization records can be very helpful when doing genealogy research, but can frequently be very difficult. Naturalizations before 1906 could be done in any just about any court in the country, and were not standardized. After 1906 the federal government took over the Naturalization process and all forms became standardized nationwide. The location of all Naturalization files post-1906 are generally in set locations based on where the person Naturalized.

There are different kinds of files available, but the main files you may be able to find include:

– Declaration of Intention (also known as ‘first papers’)
– Petition (also known as ‘second papers’ or ‘final papers’)
– Oath of Allegiance (sometimes part of one of the above documents, sometimes separate)
– Certificate of Arrival (certifying what date they arrived in the country, required after 1906)

Other files are also possible to find, but will generally only be found if you do a search through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which hold the entire C-File (certificate file) for naturalized citizens (records from 1906 onwards). Ordering a search online ($20) through the USCIS is a very time-consuming process. At the time of this writing, the USCIS is backlogged and processing search requests from four months ago. Once they find records according to your search, you need to then put in a request to copies of the records found, which costs another $35.

As such, the question is how can one access naturalization records without going through such a long and expensive process. There are some records from the National Archives that are up on Fold3.com, and frankly if you have a subscription to Footnote.com, or want to purchase individual documents from the site, this is the easiest way to go if they have the records you want. Fold3.com has Naturalization records from California, Louisiana, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania. These collections are not complete for each state, so check the site to see which years and which districts in each state are covered. Unfortunately, this collection of records is unlikely to expand on Fold3.com since they changed their focus to military records. If you’re lucky the records you want will already be on Fold3.com, but if not its likely that Ancestry.com (the new owner of Fold3.com) will start digitizing new naturalization records instead.

If Fold3.com doesn’t have the record you are looking for, then you can in some cases order the records directly from the National Archives. In order to order a record from the National Archives, you will need to know the following information about the person who became Naturalized:

– State in Which the Naturalization Occurred
– City in Which the Naturalization Occurred
– Date Range
– First Name
– Last Name
– Year of Birth
– Residence City
– Residence County
– Petition Number (only required for records from New York State)

If you have additional information, you can also provide it, such as country of origin, date of arrival in the US, name of spouse, etc. Basically, whatever information you can provide that will help the archivist searching the records make sure they find the correct record. If you know alternate names for the person, I recommend adding those to the additional information field.

The form you fill out looks like this (click to enlarge):

National Archives Naturalization File Order Form

The cost of ordering files through this online ordering system is $7.50, and the can be sent either scanned on a CD or copied on paper (you can choose, but they can’t always scan the records, depending on size, so you might get paper copies even if you ordered a CD).

You might think this is great, everything you’ve been looking for is going to be on this site, but keep in mind that you need to know all the above information before ordering a record, so you’ll need to do some research first. If the relative you’re researching lived in the US in 1920, definitely check out the naturalization year field in the census for that year. If you know what year they were naturalized, you now know the correct answer for the Date Range field, and you can hopefully figure out what city and county they were living in based on that year (which could be different than the city and county from the 1920 census since they may have lived somewhere else when naturalized). Of course, to help you figure all this out, you can utilize the B&F US Immigrant Census Form (available on the Forms page), which will let you collect all the relevant information from censuses from 1880-1930 on immigrants.

In addition, I’m sorry to say, not all records are held by the National Archives. Some districts only have records before 1906, some only after. Some years are missing. Some districts only carried out naturalization for a few years. One district only lists records for a single day in 1895. It’s not easy to figure out the reasons why some years are available in one district and not others.

In order that you will not have to go to the National Archives site and get all the way through setting up an account and filling out the form, only to find out they don’t have the records you’re looking for, I’ve created a chart showing all the States, Cities and Date Ranges. Thus if you go to the State below, you’ll see all the Cities from which you’ll need to select in the system (sometimes these are not, strictly speaking, cities), and then the Date Ranges are given for each City. I’ve combined contiguous date ranges, but you’ll need to select the date range that includes the year your relative was Naturalized.

[Renee Stern Steinig e-mailed me to point out that while the National Archives online-ordering system only lists the years in the table below, the actual National Archives regional branches that hold the records may contain more years than what is listed in the ordering system. She has successfully ordered records from NY from later years by selecting a random year range and then indicating the real year of naturalization in the comments. This is of course open to the archivist who receives the order whether or not to fulfill it, but for $7.50 perhaps it is worth the chance since the alternative is more costly and will take much longer.

If you want a year not mentioned in the table below, find the regional branch likely to hold the records you want from the list of locations, then check out the regional branch’s holdings to see if they have more years available than what is listed in the online-ordering system (which is reflected in the table below).

For example, New York has a list of their naturalization holdings online that indicates holding that are much more recent than the 1906 date listed as the last year in the online-ordering system.]

I hope people find this useful. If you find any mistakes, please let me know in the comments below. Please also feel free to comment on your own experiences finding and getting copies of Naturalization records.


National Archives Naturalization Online Ordering

State Town Year Range
Alabama Birmingham 1909-1963
Florence 1922-1926
Hunstville 1924-1926
Mobile 1906-1969
Montgomery 1912-1960
Selma 1912-1960
Alaska Anchorage 1903-1991
Fairbanks 1909-1991
Arizona Cities within the Arizona Territorial Courts 1881-1912
Phoenix 1912-1991
Tuscon 1915-1971
Arkansas Batesville 1906-1964
Fort Smith 1872-1906
Harrison 1909-1950
Helena 1909-1953
Hot Springs 1941-1981
Little Rock 1903-1981
Texarkana 1907-1980
California Los Angeles 1850-1991
Sacramento 1917-1956
San Diego 1853-1991
San Francisco 1852-1989
Colorado Denver 1877-1951
Pueblo 1877-1949
Connecticut Ansonia 1893-1906
Bridgeport 1963-1992
Hartford 1842-1906
Meriden 1903-1955
Middletown 1795-1859, 1872-1906, 1926-1955
New Britain 1903-1953
New Haven 1836-1992
New London 1793, 1819-1906
Waterbury 1854-1906
Winsted 1842-1906
Delaware Wilmington 1797-1991
DC Washington 1802-1991
Florida Jacksonville 1895-1975
Key West 1847-1969
Miami 1913-1991
Pensacola 1884-1972
Tampa 1907-1969
Georgia Athens 1910-1925
Augusta 1909-1970
Brunswick 1939-1982
Macon 1906-1930
Rome 1906-1964
Savannah 1909-1991
Thomasville 1938-1981
Valdosta 1927-1982
Hawaii Honolulu 1900-1976
Idaho Boise 1866-1981
Coeur d’Alene 1912-1973
Moscow 1907-1967
Pocatello 1915-1941
Twin Falls 1907-1980
Illinois Chicago 1872-1991
Danville 1906-1962
Peoria 1908-1954
Springfield 1856-1974
Indiana Indianapolis 1907-1945
Iowa Cedar Rapids 1891-1978
Creston 1930-1951
Des Moines 1915-1984
Dubuque 1915-1962
Ft. Dodge 1909-1977
Linn County Superior Court 1891-1894, 1898-1947
Mason City 1944-1961
Ottumwa 1916-1951
Sioux City 1930-1988
Waterloo 1944-1962
Kansas Ft. Scott 1916-1966
Kansas City 1930-1970
Topeka 1868-1870, 1872-1890, 1908-1984
Wichita 1909-1991
Kentucky Bowling Green 1913-1976
Convington 1910-1956
Frankfort 1912-1951
Lexington 1922-1943
London 1913-1972
Louisville 1906-1978
Louisiana Alexandria 1922-1964
Baton Rouge 1907-1951
Lake Charles 1921-1988
Monroe 1838-1861, 1929-1955
New Orleans 1898-1903, 1906-1991
Opelousas 1918-1964
Shreveport 1902-1991
Maine Alfred 1805-1837, 1840-1852, 1860, 1904
Auburn 1854-1893
Augusta 1812-1838, 1878-1906
Bangor 1835-1905
Bath 1854-1906
Belfast 1829-1906
Caribou 1892-1893, 1901-1905
District of Maine 1790-1991
Dover-Foxcroft 1840-1906
Ellsworth 1805-1838, 1847-1906
Farmington 1839, 1846-1906
Houlton 1839-1906
Lewiston 1882-1893
Machias 1790-1906
Portland 1790-1903
Rockland 1868-1906
Saco 1881
Skowhegan 1818-1906
South Paris 1852-1916
Waterville 1891-1904
Wiscasset 1790-1904
Maryland Baltimore 1906-1972
Massachusetts Abington-Hingham 1887-1903
Adams 1895-1906
Amesbury 1906
Attleboro 1904-1906
Ayer 1887-1906
Boston 1790-1991
Brighton 1896-1906
Brockton 1887-1906
Brookline 1889-1906
Cambridge 1886-1906
Cambridge/Lowell 1850-1885
Charlestown 1902-1906
Chelsea 1886-1906
Chicopee 1904-1916
Clinton 1900-1906
Concord 1905-1906
Dedham 1806-1906
Dorchester 1902-1906
East Brookfield 1902-1906
Edgartown 1790-1858, 1887-1906
Fall River 1885-1906
Fitchburg 1885-1904
Framingham 1885-1906
Franklin 1900-1906
Gardner 1885-1906
Gloucester 1885-1906
Gr Bar (Great Barrington?) 1887-1906
Greenfield 1840-1906
Haverhill 1885-1906
Holyoke 1885-1906
Lawrence 1885-1906
Lee 1900-1904
Lowell 1838-1854, 1885-1906
Lynn 1885-1906
Malden 1885-1906
Marlborough 1885-1906
Middleborough 1885-1906
Milford 1900-1906
Nantucket 1804-1903
New Bedford 1847-1855, 1885-1906
Newburyport 1845-1896
North Adams 1885-1906
Orange 1899-1906
Palmer 1896-1906
Pittsfield 1787-1906
Plymouth 1812-1883, 1885-1906
Quincy 1886-1906
Roxbury 1836-1906
Salem 1797-1906
Somerville 1886-1906
Southbridge 1898-1905
Springfield 1845-1906
Taunton 1805-1906
Waltham 1885-1906
Ware 1899-1906
Webster 1898-1905
West Newton 1885-1906
Westborough 1905-1906
Westfield 1886-1906
Winchendon 1906
Woburn 1885-1906
Worcester 1837-1906
Michigan Bay City Mar 19, 1895
Detroit 1837-1991
Flint 1965-1984
Grand Rapids 1868-1972
Marquette 1888-1915
Minnesota Duluth 1897-1972
Fergus Falls 1897-1902, 1906-1936, 1939-1978
Mankato 1897-1901, 1907-1929, 1930-1961
Minneapolis 1897-1976
St. Paul 1897-1979
Winona 1896-1900, 1916-1920, 1955-1961
Mississippi Aberdeen 1913-1943
Biloxi 1908-1965
Clarksdale 1908-1952
Jackson 1911-1956
Vicksburg 1906-1956
Missouri Cape Girardeau 1907-1979
Hannibal 1907-1977
Jefferson City 1938-1982
Joplin 1932-1974
Kansas City 1909-1991
Springfield 1911-1983
St. Joseph 1907-1976
St. Louis 1846-1991
Montana Butte 1891-1929
Great Falls 1891-1929
Helena 1891-1929
Nebraska Chadron 1930-1951
Grand Island 1932-1950
Hastings 1931-1942
Lincoln 1932-1978
McCook 1931-1942
Norfolk 1930-1951
North Platte 1930-1951
Omaha 1868-1906, 1930-1981
Nevada 1st Judicial District (Churchill County) 1908-1956
2nd Judicial District (Washoe County) 1907-1949
Las Vegas 1956-1991
New Hampshire Amherst 1848-1873, 1876
Colebrook 1890-1904
Concord 1835-1906
Dover 1833-1906
Exeter 1798-1907
Gilford 1847-1874
Haverhill 1839-1906
Keene 1838-1906
Laconia 1846-1852, 1866, 1874-1906
Lancaster 1888-1906
Lebanon 1894-1904
Littleton 1873-1912
Manchester 1845-1913
Nashua 1857-1909
Newport 1812-1906
Ossipee 1860-1873, 1876-1905
Plymouth 1844-1858, 1860-1900, 1902-1906
Portsmouth 1792-1914
Rochester 1886-1889
Somersworth 1887-1888
New Jersey Camden 1932-1991
Dover 1918
Newark 1914-1982
Trenton 1798-1988
New Mexico Albuquerque 1882-1962
Cities in Bernalillo county 1882-1962
Cites in Colfax county 1882-1962
Cities in Dona Ana county 1882-1962
Cites in Grant county 1882-1962
Cities in Lincoln county 1882-1962
Cities in Mora county 1882-1962
Cities in Rio Arriba county 1882-1962
Cities in San Miguel county 1882-1962
Cities in Santa Fe county 1882-1962
Cities in Sierra county 1882-1962
Cities in Socorro county 1882-1962
Cities in Taos county 1882-1962
Cities in Valencia county 1882-1962
Santa Fe 1882-1962
New York Brooklyn 1865-1991
Buffalo 1903-1966
Elizabethtown 1799-1906
New York 1792-1906
Plattsburg 1851-1906
Utica 1821-1855, 1906
North Carolina Asheville 1907-1959
Charlotte 1929-1991
Elizabeth City 1909-1927
Greensboro 1875-1991
New Bern 1920-1929
Raleigh 1909-1965
Statesville 1916-1949
Washington 1915-1929
Wilkesboro 1910-1920
Wilson 1928-1953
North Dakota 1st Judicial District 1861-1877
2nd Judicial District 1861-1882
Fargo 1890-1924
Ohio Cincinnati 1859-1963
Cleveland 1855-1967
Columbus 1917-1947
Dayton 1916-1951
Oklahoma Ardmore 1896-1906
Guthrie 1907-1933
Oklahoma City 1930-1991
South McAlester 1891-1906
Oregon Portland 1859-1992
Pennsylvania Erie 1940-1972
Harrisburg 1911-1917
Philadelphia 1790-1991
Pittsburgh 1820-1979
Scranton 1901-1991
Wilkes-Barre 1943-1972
Williamsport 1909-1913
Puerto Rico San Juan 1899-1972
Rhode Island Bristol 1804-1903
District of Rhode Island 1842-1906
East Greenwich 1854-1903, 1905-1906
Newport 1793-1906
Providence 1793-1903, 1905-1906
Westerly 1817-1819, 1842-1906
South Carolina Aiken 1917-1926
All Divisions 1965-1991
Charleston 1886-1965
Columbia 1910-1965
Florence 1911-1929
Greenville 1910-1929
Western District (All Divisions) 1911-1965
South Dakota Sioux Falls 1906-1928
Tennessee Chattanooga 1907-1974
Greeneville 1913-1964
Jackson 1921-1929
Knoxville 1908-1991
Memphis 1907-1963
Nashville 1907-1991
Winchester 1942-1944
Texas Abilene 1911-1984
Amarillo 1913-1988
Austin 1907-1981
Beaumont 1906-1991
Brownsville 1909-1917
Corpus Christi 1913-1954
Dallas 1908-1991
Del Rio 1908-1982
El Paso 1907-1972
Fort Worth 1906-1982
Galveston 1907-1921
Houston 1908-1991
Laredo 1907-1988
Lubbock 1930-1962
Paris 1909-1917
San Angelo 1910-1959
San Antonio 1907-1987
Texarkana 1930-1960
Victoria 1907-1955
Waco 1906-1981
Wichita Falls 1917-1980
Utah Salt Lake City 1906-1930
Vermont Barre 1900-1906
Bennington 1842-1906
Chelsea 1844-1906
District of Vermont 1801-1906
Guildhall 1896-1906
Hyde Park 1842-1894
Middlebury 1840-1904
Newport 1838-1906
North Hero 1829-1900
St. Albans 1835-1906
St. Johnsbury 1840-1906
Vergennes 1848-1906
Woodstock 1838-1905
Virginia Alexandria 1909-1981
Big Stone Gap 1914-1944
Charlottesville 1910-1957
Danville 1907-1966
Norfolk 1851-1992
Richmond 1906-1956
Roanoke 1906-1990
Washington Seattle 1890-1991
Spokane 1903-1991
Tacoma 1890-1991
Walla Walla 1907-1972
Yakima 1907-1950
West Virginia Charleston 1906-1929
Elkins 1790-1980
Fairmont 1944-1974
Phillipi 1910-1925
Wheeling 1844-1875, 1912-1978
Wisconsin Madison 1941-1969
Milwaukee 1848-1970
Superior 1910-1955

* In general I used the exact spelling of a city as listed on the National Archives site, with two exceptions. First, in Massachusetts one city is listed as Gr Bar, which I assume is Great Barrington, and have added in parenthesis. Second, in Washington it lists Walla Wall which I have listed as Walla Walla. If there really is a separate city named Walla Wall, I apologize.

One thought on “Naturalization

Comments are closed.