Find your ancestors in United States naturalization petitions

What can these records tell me?

The United States government began to regulate the naturalization process, including the forms and courts authorized, in September 1906 with the formation of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (later known as the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS)). The changes that followed included more information being taken from applicants during the naturalization process. For example, forms would now require applicants to record their occupation, birth date, and names of spouse and children.

This collection currently covers records from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. Additional records from others states will be added to this collection as they are obtained. Each result will provide both an image and a transcript. Generally, transcripts will provide the following information:

  • First name(s)
  • Last name
  • Any aliases (e.g. John or Jack)
  • Birth date
  • Birth location
  • Age at event
  • Event type (petition for naturalization, declaration of intention, and oath of allegiance)
  • Event year
  • Event location
  • Relations (spouse and/or children or parents and/or siblings if the applicant is a child)
  • Petition number
  • Declaration number
  • Case file number

Images may provide additional forms or notes, such as a certificate of arrival, which would include the port of entry and manner of arrival (ship name). Some forms, such as the declaration of intention, included a photograph of the applicant. You may be able to see for yourself what your ancestors looked like at the time of their applications.

Most applications will have two documents, so be sure to use the previous and next buttons to view all the images associated with a given applicant.

Naturalization process

Generally speaking, naturalization was, at minimum, a 5-year process. There were two steps involved: the first involved filing a declaration of intent to become a U.S. citizen. This could be filed after living in the United States for 2 years. The second step could occur after an additional 3 years of living in the United States and involved submitting a petition for naturalization. When the petition was approved, a certificate of citizenship would be issued.

For family history research, it is worth noting that the declaration of intent would likely contain more biographical and genealogical information than the later petition.

There are a few exceptions to this general process of naturalization, which mainly pertain to wives and children. Some exceptions are as follows:

  • Derivative citizenship - Wives and minor children of naturalized men were given derivative citizenship. Wives of naturalized men would be given automatic citizenship between 1790 and 1922. This also applied to alien wives of U.S. citizens. For children under the legal age of 21, they would gain automatic citizenship when their fathers were naturalized.
  • Minors who have lived in the United States for five years prior to their 23rd birthday were eligible to file their declarations and petitions simultaneously between 1824 and 1906.

As such, while you can search by anyone named on these forms, some of the children, for instance, may not be the primary applicant and may already be citizens.

Discover more about these records

This collection comprises the following publications from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA):

  • NARA microfilm publication M1545, Index to Petitions and Records of Naturalizations of the U.S. and District Courts for the District of Massachusetts, 1906-1966
  • NARA publication M1522, Naturalization Petitions for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • NARA publication M1248, Indexes to Naturalization Petitions to the U.S. Circuit and District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1795-1951
  • NARA microfilm publication M2081, Indexes to Naturalization Petitions for United States District Courts, Connecticut, 1851-1992
  • NARA microfilm publication M1164, Index to Naturalization Petitions of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 1865-1957
  • NARA microfilm publication M1675, Alphabetical Index to Declarations of Intention of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1917-1950
  • NARA microfilm publication M1676, Alphabetical Index to Petitions for Naturalization of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1824-1941