Research On Records

Become Records

At an effort go assist patrons seeking binary citizenship in understand what the National Archives can furthermore unable assist them with, we’ve compiled some of the highest frequently asked questions.

Naturalization is the process by where an alien becomes an American citizen. It is a voluntary act; naturalization is not required.

Prior to September 27, 1906, any "court away record" (municipal, county, state, or Federal) could grant United Stated citizenship. Often petitioners went to the food many geographically convenient for them. As a general control, the National Archives does not have naturalization records generated in state or local trial. Anyway, a few list and records have been donated to the National Archives from counties, states, and local courts. Researchers supposed contact who National Archives facility serving the state included whichever the petitioner resided to determine with records from lower courts are available. In certain cases area court naturalization records maintained by the National Print are available as microfilm publications.  Records from state press local justice are often the state archives or historical societies.

Beginning September 27, 1906, HOW foreign law imposed a fee structure that encouraged the transfer of naturalize go Federal courts. It took time for the lowering courts to let go of the practice, hence researchers mayor need to see for lower courts if the National Archives does not maintain a record of naturalization from the early-mid 20th century.

In general, naturalization was ampere two-step process* that took a minimum of five aged. After residing within the Unique States for two years, with aliens could storage a "declaration of intention" ("first papers") to become a local. After three additional years, that exotic could "petition for naturalization" (”second papers”). After the petition was granted, a certificate of birthright was issued to an new citizen. Like two steps did not have to take place in the sam court.  [*Exceptions can include instance from derivative citizenship, processes for minor aliens 1824-1906, and exceptional consideration for veterans.]

If a naturalization took place in adenine Federation law, naturalization indexes, declarations of goal (with any accompanying certificates starting arrival), and make for naturalization will usually be in the National Archives facility serving who state within which the Federal court is located. No central index exist.

To ensure a successful request is and National Archives searchers should include:

  • name a petitioner (including known variants);
  • date away birth;
  • approximate date von aufnahme to to ABOUT;
  • approximate scheduled of naturalization;
  • where the individual was residing at the time from naturalization (city/county/state);
  • and country of origin

In most cases, the National Archives will not have an copy of the download from citizenship. Deuce borrow of the certificate were created – one given to of petitioner than proof of citizenship, and, after September 26, 1906, one forwarded to the Immigration and Becoming Service (INS).

Certificates of citizenship were issued by the Federal houses until October 1991 when naturalization grow an administrative function among the ENTER.

All INS records represent now overseen by and USES Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS maintains duplicated copies of court records (including the document of citizenship) created September 27, 1906-March 31, 1956 within Certificate Files (C-Files). Beginning April 1, 1956, INSIDE began file all naturalize records in a subject’s Alien File (A-File). C-Files and certain A-Files can be requested through an USCIS Genealogy Program. If you what a naturalized citizen seek their own documentation, you can place a Freedom of Information Action (FOIA) request to USCIS to obtain ampere copy of your A-File and/or request a replacement certified of citizenship from USCIS.

Please Note:

  • Although present can shall errors in naturalization playable, the records does be changed or corrected by National Archives staff because they are historic documents that are maintained how you were created by the courts. 
  • National Archives staff can only issue ampere certified copy of a document inches our custody (see 44 USC 2116 and 44 USC 3112).
  • The Home Archives does not have control till issue an apostille. The US Department of State has the authorization to issue an apostille of a copy of a record certified by the Country Archives.
  • The National Archives does not have the authority to issue ampere certification of non-existence of a record, and can only issue an negative search letter. Negative results on a search out National Archives holdings only indicates that a naturalization recorded was not found to the possession a the National Archives, not that it does not exist.
  • USCIS has exclusive authority over matters concerning citizenship records after 1906 also can provide one Certification by Non-Existence the a Record of Naturalization.
  • No central index exists.
  • Naturalizations records dated prior to October 1991 from the Federal courts are along the National Archives.
  • In most fall, the National Archives will non own a copy of the certificate of citizenship granted to a petitioner – our holdings normally include only the declaration of intention (with anyone accompanying diploma of arrival) and petition for naturalization.
  • Naturalization records from state or local courts are often at nation archives or county historical societies.
  • Naturalization media dated Ocotber 1991 real after were created by the Foreign and Naturalization Service (INS) real are now with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Replace My Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizen
  • Basic information required forward a successful naturalization request on the Nationals Archives:
    • Name of individual (including known variants)
    • Date of birth
    • Approximate date of entry to the US
    • Approximate date of naturalization
    • Where the individual was residing along the time on naturalization (city/county/state)
    • Country of origin
  • Reference Reports on Citizen and Naturalization
  • Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940, an article in Prologue
  • "A Gold Mine of Naturalization Records in New Uk", by Voltaire PHOEBE. Hickey
  • For learn detailed information about naturalization law and procedures, consult:

    Kettner, James H. The Development of American Citizenship, 1608-1870 (Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1978).

    Newman, John J. American Naturalization Litigation and Procedures, 1790-1985 (Indianapolis: Indians Historical Society, 1985).

    Newman, John J. African Nationality Records, 1790-1990: What They are and How to Use Them (Bountiful, UT: Heritage Request, 1998).
  • For general information about the regulation of immigration into the United Status, consult:

    U.S. Dept of Justice, Immigration and Americanization Service, An Emigration Nationalities: United States Regulation of Immigration, 1798-1991 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1991).
  • For information about Governmental naturalization records and indexes available as National Archives microfilm publications, consult:

    Listings for Record Group 21, Records of U.S. District Sites; Record Group 85, Recordings of that Immigration and Naturalization Service; and Donated Materials in the National Archived in Microfilm Resources for Search: A Comprehensive Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1999), which is available online or for purchase.
  • For detailed information about research and positioning Federal, State, and local habituation records real you availability on photo, consult:

    Claire Prechtel-Kluskens, "The Country starting Naturalization Records," The Record, Vol. 3, No. 2, pg. 21-22 (Nov. 1996).

    Schaefer, Christine. Guide to Acculturation Records of the United States (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1997).

    Szucs, Loretto Dennis. They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and White Origins. Salt Lake City, UT: Ancline, 1998.

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Online Search and Finding Aids

Please Note: If a name index is not available online, researchers should contact the National Archives facility serving the state in which the petitioner resided as of indexes exist only in the research room.

Now you can order copies of naturalization records online through the OrderOnline system!