Using Naturalization and Land Records with Directories
It may seem odd to group naturalization and land records together, but methodologically they are very similar. They both reflect the parameters of residence in an area. If a person owned a home in a city, there should be some record of its purchase when the family moved into the city and its sale when the family changed residences or moved out of the city. Finding the first and last years of residence narrows down the search for these land records, which, in a city like New York or Boston, can be voluminous.
Similarly, finding an immigrant’s first year of residence in a city narrows down the naturalization records you’ll have to search. In cases where these records are indexed, knowing that one of two naturalized immigrants of the same name lived in the city before the other may differentiate the two.
James Renwick appeared in the city directories of New York beginning in 1833. He made his declaration of intention on 3 February 1835. During that time period, declarations were usually filed after three years of residence; the information in James Renwick’s case corresponds nicely with his residence in New York City. He may have arrived too late in 1832 to be included in that year’s directory.
Renwick is an uncommon name, but this method, for both land and naturalization records, works well when the surname is more common and differentiation using auxiliary sources is necessary.
- Declaration of Intention of James Renwick to Become a Naturalized Citizen of the United States, New York Co., N.Y., Naturalization Records Court of Common-Pleas, Bundle 26, no. 69, 3 November 1840. Available on FHL microfilm 901,057.