Naturalization


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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.