What are Naturalization Records?:
U.S. naturalization records document the process whereby an individual born in one country is granted citizenship in the United States. Although the details have changed over the years, the naturalization process generally consists of three major steps: 1) the filing of a declaration of intent or "first papers," and 2) the petition for naturalization or "second papers" or "final papers," and 3) the granting of citizenship or "certificate of naturalization."
What Can I Learn From Naturalization Records?:
While information always varies from document to document, information that you might find in post-1906 naturalization records includes:
- current address
- birthplace or nationality
- birth date or age
- marital status
- name, age, and birthplace of spouse
- names, ages, and birthplaces of children
- date and port of emigration (departure)
- date and port of immigration (arrival)
- name of ship or mode of entry
- town or court where the naturalization occurred
- names, addresses, and occupations of witnesses
- physical description and photo of immigrant
- immigrant's signature
- additional documentation such as evidence of a name change
** See U.S. Naturalization & Citizenship Records for an in-depth tutorial on the naturalization process in the United States, including the types of records which were generated, and exceptions to the naturalization rule for married women and minor children.
Where Can I Find Naturalization Records?:
Depending upon the location and time period of the naturalization, naturalization records may be located at the local or county court, in a state or regional archives facility, at the National Archives, or through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Some naturalization indexes and digitized copies of original naturalization records are also starting to become available online.