Path to Citizenship
February 28, 2017
Immigration and naturalization research can be a rewarding part of a genealogist's family history journey. Most of us have ancestors who immigrated to the United States from other countries. By following each person’s path to citizenship, we learn more about our ancestors.
Once one of your ancestors made the decision to become a citizen, the naturalization process began. The individual went through a three-step process beginning with a Declaration of Intent. Then the individual filed an Application or Petition for Naturalization. Finally, they received a Certificate of Naturalization. While this seems straightforward, eligibility laws and rules played a large part in who could start the process and when. The U.S. Congress passed numerous naturalization acts, and the rules would and could change with each subsequent act. Of course, a woman’s status was largely dependent upon her husband, and there were many changes to these rules during the early 20th Century. You can find more information in the National Archives.
The Midwest Genealogy Center and Mid-Continent Public Library are the perfect places to go if you’re interested in online resources. For research at home, try Fold3 Library Edition or HeritageQuest Online. Both databases provide access to indexes and naturalization files. Ancestry Library Edition also has numerous indexes, documents, and files that can aid you with your naturalization research. Remember that not all years will be covered by these databases.
If you’re looking for resources to check out, MGC has you covered here too. For general naturalization research, try Becoming American-Research with Naturalization Records by Kris W. Rzepczynski or Mastering Immigration & Naturalization Records by Daniel W. Quillen. MGC also has more specialized books like Denizations and Naturalizations in the British Colonies in America, 1607-1775 by Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck and Naturalization Records by New Mexico Courts by Karen Stein Daniel.
Discovering your ancestors’ citizenship journey can be an enriching experience. In addition to finding information to add to your family tree, you get to learn more about your ancestors and their lives. With so many resources available, following the path to citizenship has never been so easy. Do you have any naturalization research tips to share?
Midwest Genealogy Center