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Naturalization Indexes: How to Find the Record

Behind every naturalization document is the story of an individual who was expressing his or her desire to become an American citizen. The legacy of that decision is a powerful piece of our family story. In addition to the strong significance of naturalizations, records created in later years (post-1906) can be incredibly rich in detail, providing ancestral origins in the old country, date, port, and ship of arrival in the U.S., names of family members and more.

In the past, it could be difficult to locate an ancestor’s naturalization records. Your ancestor might have started the process soon after arriving near his or her port of entry, moved on to another location, and completed the process in an entirely different city or state.

Fortunately the search for naturalization records is getting easier. A number of naturalization indexes are being created through the Ancestry World Archives Project. Some of the collections being indexed through that project link to actual naturalization records. Others are indexes that provide information that will allow you to request those records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or through local courts. You can learn more about the World Archives Project and the collections that are currently being indexed here. All of the indexes created will be available free on Ancestry.com, although the actual documents will require a membership to view.

In May 2008, Ancestry.com added an index of nearly 2.5 million U.S. naturalization records for various courts (primarily U.S. District and Circuit courts). These and several other collections of naturalization records and indexes are already available to Ancestry.com members. You can view all of the naturalization collections by going to the Card Catalog and selecting Immigration & Emigration from the collection filters on the left, and Citizenship & Naturalization Records. Or you can search the entire Immigration & Emigration Collection here.

Using Indexes to Request the Record from NARA
The indexes typically include the person’s name, along with the associated volume and page number, and the name of the court where the file was located. Some include additional information like an address, age, naturalization date, aliases, and references to other documentation like declarations of intent, or alien registration. This information is going to help you to request the naturalization record.

The regional offices of the National Archives are most often the repository where the federal court records are now located. The database of U.S. Naturalization Records Indexes, 1794-1995 includes records from the following courts. Below each state listing is the contact information for the National Archives Region that holds the original naturalization records.

Alaska, District and Territory, U.S. District Court: Index to Declarations filed in Skagway, 1904-1917, and in Juneau, 1900-1929 (NARA Roll Series M1241)
For copies of the original file, write to:
 
National Archives – Pacific Alaska Region
654 W. Third Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: 907-271-2441
Fax: 907-271-2442
 

California, Northern District, U.S. Circuit Court: Index to Applications for naturalization 1879-1903, Certificates of citizenship 1855-1912; U.S. District Court: Index to Declarations 1851-1904, Naturalizations 1853-1867, Certificates of naturalization 1854-1906, Declarations and Petitions 1906-1928 (NARA roll series T1220)
For copies of the original file, write to:
National Archives - Pacific Region (San Francisco)
1000 Commodore Drive
San Bruno, CA 94066-2350
Phone: 650-876-9001
Fax: 650-876-9233 
  

District of Columbia, U.S. Supreme Court: Index to Naturalization Records, 1802-1909 (NARA Roll Series M1827)
For copies of the original file, write to:
National Archives – Archives I
700 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20408
Phone: 202-501-5410 (Genealogical Staff)
202-501-5400 (Record Availability)
  

Delaware, U.S. Circuit CourtIndex to Petitions, 1795-1911; U.S. District Court: Index to Petitions, 1795-1928 (NARA Roll Series M1649)
For copies of the original file, write to:
National Archives - Mid-Atlantic Region
900 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215-597-3000
Fax: 215-597-2303

Maryland, U.S. Circuit and District Courts: Index to Petitions, 1797-1951 (NARA Roll Series M1168)
For copies of the original file, write to:
National Archives - Mid-Atlantic Region
900 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215-597-3000
Fax: 215-597-2303

Massachusetts, U.S. Circuit Court: Indexes to Petitions and Records, 1906-1911; U.S. District Court: Indexes to Petitions and Records, 1906-1966 (NARA Roll Series M1545)
For copies of the original file, write to:
National Archives-Northeast Region (Boston)
Reference Supervisor
380 Trapelo Road
Waltham, MA 02452
Phone: (781) 663-0130
Fax: (781) 663-0154

Michigan, Eastern District, Southern Division, Detroit, U.S. District Court: Index to Petitions, 1907-1995 (NARA Roll Series M1917)
For copies of the original file, write to:
National Archives-Great Lakes Region
7358 Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60629
Phone: 773-948-9001
fax: (773)948-9050

New York, Southern District, U.S. District and Circuit Courts: Index to Petitions, 1824-1941 (NARA Roll Series M1676); Eastern District, U.S. District Court: Index to Petitions, 1865-1957 (NARA Roll Series M1164)
For copies of the original file, write to:
National Archives-Northeast Region
One Bowling Green, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10004
Toll-free: 1-866-840-1752 or 212-401-1620
Fax: 212-401-1638

Ohio, Northern District , Eastern Division, Cleveland, U.S. District Court: Index to Petitions, 1855-1967 (NARA Roll Series M1893)
For copies of the original file, write to:
National Archives-Great Lakes Region
7358 South Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60629
phone: (773)948-9001
fax: (773)948-9050

Oregon, U.S. Circuit Court: Indexes to Declarations 1859-1935, Petitions 1906-1935, Admissions to citizenship 1859-1907; U.S. District Court: Indexes to Declarations 1859-1956, Petitions 1906-1956, Admissions to citizenship 1859-1907 (NARA Roll Series M1242)
For copies of the original file, write to:
National Archives – Pacific Alaska Region (Seattle)
6125 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, Washington 98115-7999
Phone: 206-336-5115 
  

Pennsylvania, Western District, U.S. Circuit and District Courts: Index to Declarations and Petitions, 1820-1906 (NARA Roll Series M1208)
For copies of the original file, write to:
National Archives - Mid-Atlantic Region
900 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215-597-3000
Fax: 215-597-2303 
   

Ordering from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
The USCIS has copies of naturalization records dated post 27 September 1906, and these can be requested through the USCIS Genealogy Program. 
Details on requesting records from USCIS can be found in this article.
  

Records from Local Courts
If the records aren’t found in the National Archives, you may have to take your search to the local level. Look for the websites of local courts. Some are even creating their own databases of records. For example, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois has posted a database of declarations of intentions on the court's website.   

Also check at the state level. The Illinois State Archives website has a database of City of East St. Louis (St. Clair County) City Court Naturalization Papers Index, 1874–1906 online.   

Typically you’ll find links or information on requesting the actual records on these websites.

Check Back Often
It’s easier than ever to locate the naturalization record of your ancestor. As more records are digitized at Ancestry.com and beyond, more family historians will be able to locate the naturalization records of their ancestors. This means more families will discover the story of the ancestor who made that momentous decision and changed the course of events for generations to come.

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