My grandfather Felice Apicella immigrated to the US after 12/1/1921 to Cleveland Ohio. I am trying to find out if he ever was a naturalized US citizen or retained his Italian Citizenship.

I am trying to find out if my grandfather received his US citizenship after leaving Vico del Gargano Italy on 12/1/1921 for Cleveland Ohio.  I have his birth and death certificate.  Thank you.

  • Without data like his DOB, it is a bit of guess, but maybe this is your guy? … Nevertheless, the following person arrived many years before 1921 in the USA:

    2 Passenger lists (there could be more) (#4)
    Ship: Italia
    Departure: Naples, 30 May 1907
    Arrival: New York, 15 Jun 1907
    Destination: Philadelphia, PA (#5)
    Ship: Berlin
    Departure: Naples, 18 April 1913
    Arrival: New York, 30 April 1913
    Dest: Pittsburg
    Note: Previously he’d been in Pittsburg as well (1907-11)

    1919 declaration of intention in Cleveland:

    His 1926 Cleveland naturalization file starts here: (4 pages)


    Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

    Some naturalization records are available from sites like Ancestry and FamilySearch, which often provide an option for searching by name. See: Ohio, U.S., Naturalization Petition and Record Books, 1888-1946.  Ancestry is a subscription-based website that is accessible for free at all NARA research facilities nationwide. FamilySearch may be used with a free account.

    If your grandfather naturalized in Ohio federal courts please contact the National Archives at Chicago (RRFC) at Naturalization records from state or local courts are often at state archives or county historical societies.

    Many foreign-born individuals living in the United States never actually became U.S. citizens. Naturalization is a voluntary act; it is not required. For example, of the foreign-born persons listed on the 1890 through the 1930 Censuses, 25 percent had not naturalized or filed a declaration of intent.

    In general, naturalization was a two-step process* that took a minimum of five years. After residing in the United States for two years, an alien could file a "declaration of intention" ("first papers") to become a citizen. After three additional years, the alien could "petition for naturalization" (”second papers”). After the petition was granted, a certificate of citizenship was issued to the alien. These two steps did not have to take place in the same court.  [*Exceptions can include cases of derivative citizenship, processes for minor aliens 1824-1906, and special consideration for veterans.]

    If a naturalization took place in a Federal court, naturalization indexes, declarations of intention (with any accompanying certificates of arrival), and petitions for naturalization will usually be in the National Archives facility serving the state in which the Federal court is located. No central index exists. To ensure a successful request with the National Archives, your email should include: the name of petitioner (including known variants); date of birth; approximate date of entry to the US; approximate date of naturalization; where the individual was residing at the time of naturalization (city/county/state); and country of origin. 

    We hope this is helpful! Best of luck with your family research!


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