Prior to 1825, immigrants needed to naturalize to purchase, own, sell, or bequeath real property, but legislation passed April 21, 1825, gave them the option to file a deposition asserting residence in the state and the intention to naturalize. This collection includes about 27,000 depositions of intent to naturalize filed by alien residents in New York, 1825–1871.
Files typically include a summary cover page and a deposition. The deposition is sometimes handwritten, and in later years many appear on printed forms. Details include the deponent’s name, residence (county and sometimes city), date of the deposition, and the deponent’s signature or mark. In some of the earlier, handwritten records you may find additional information such as origins in the old country, arrival date in the U.S., occupation, and marital status for women.
These depositions gave immigrants time to complete the naturalization process but expired six years after the filing date.
Women in This Collection
Prior to 1848, women lost control of any property they owned upon entering a marriage. Any property bequeathed to her after marriage went to her husband as well, and she did not have the right to acquire property on her own. In New York, the Married Women's Property Act of April 7, 1848, gave married women the right to buy, sell, and receive property after marriage and protected that property. It treated property, rents, and profits therefrom owned at the time of her marriage "as if she were a single female." (It offered similar protections for property obtained during her marriage, although in some cases this was subject to her husband’s debts). This legislation was amended in 1849 and again in 1860, both expanding women's property rights. Thus, beginning around 1848, about one-third of the depositions in this collection were filed by women.