Naturalization Records

Posted June 9, 2011 by Amanda | No Comment

Naturalization records are an important resource for genealogists. These records hold valuable information not only about their names and ages, but also where they came from. They provide important clues that may lead you to new paths and discoveries. Let’s take a brief look at what information naturalization records hold.

Declaration of Intentions

Petition for Naturalization - Maria von Trapp

In the first steps toward naturalization, your ancestor would need to file a declaration of intentions, also known as “First Papers.” These documents usually include their intentions to become a citizen and a signed oath. If you are looking at U.S. records after 1906, these papers will contain more valuable genealogical information, such as:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Occupation
  • Address
  • Country emigrated
  • Nationality
  • Marital status – in later records, the name of the spouse was also included
  • Port of entry and name of ship
  • Picture of applicant


Also referred to as “Second Papers,” the petition is filed after serving the required period of residency in the country. These papers are filed with the court and the information found may vary between different courts. Generally, these papers contain similar information as the Declaration of Intentions. In more recent petitions, you may find more information about your ancestor’s spouse and children. Witness affidavits may also be found and include their names, occupation and place of residence.

Naturalization Certificate

Once the requirements were completed, your ancestor would receive a naturalization certificate. This document will contain the date which your ancestor was granted citizenship and will often contain similar information found in the Declaration of Intentions and Petition.

Where can I find naturalization records?

For U.S. naturalization records prior to 1906, you may check the county courts of where your ancestor may have petitioned. For records after 1906, you can check out the National Archives. They have some records in their microfilm catalog and great links to other resources.

Make sure to add these documents to your ancestor’s Geni profiles and share with others!

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Marketing Communications Manager at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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