1 Reply Latest reply on Jan 29, 2021 1:21 PM by Cara Jensen

    Seeking if an ancestor was naturalized

    CAROL NAPP Newbie

      How do I find out if an ancestor became a naturalized US citizen?  Not sure where to start.

        • Re: Seeking if an ancestor was naturalized
          Cara Jensen Tracker

          Dear Ms. Napp,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          Since the U.S. Census notes citizenship status, we searched the National Archives Catalog and located the Population Schedules for the 1910 Census, the Population Schedules for the 1920 Census, the Population Schedules for the 1930 Census, and the Population Schedules for the 1940 Census in the Records of the Bureau of the Census (Record Group 29) that may indicate your ancestor’s citizenship status.  The 1940 Census schedules are digitized and available using the Catalog. See NARA’s 1940 Census Records web page for more information. For access to the non-digitized schedules, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) via email at archives1reference@nara.gov


          For information about the U.S. Census, see the Census Bureau technical documentation and questionnaires.


          If your ancestor was listed as a citizen in a U.S. Census (after 1906), the naturalization would have taken place in a Federal court (after 1906).  The naturalization indexes, declarations of intention (with any accompanying certificates of arrival), and petitions for naturalization will usually be in the custody of the National Archives facility serving the state in which the Federal court is located.


          Unfortunately, no central index exists. To ensure a successful request, please 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.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1 and other NARA reference units. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          In most cases, the National Archives will not have a copy of the certificate of citizenship. Two copies of the certificate were created – one given to the petitioner as proof of citizenship, and one forwarded to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).


          Certificates of citizenship were issued by the Federal courts until October 1991 when INS took over responsibility for naturalization proceedings. All INS records are now overseen by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS maintains duplicate copies of court records (including the certificate of citizenship) created since September 27, 1906 and may be requested through the USCIS Genealogy Program.


          If you find no citizenship status listed for your ancestor in the U.S. Censuses, we suggest that you request a certification of non-existence of a record of naturalization from USCIS (Genealogy Frequently Asked Questions - see About Further Research section), as well as submit an Index Search request to the USCIS Genealogy Program.  USCIS should be able to provide the certification on non-existence, and although they won’t have a naturalization record, it is likely that INS did create an A-file that could be used to verify citizenship status.


          We also suggest that you review NARA’s Naturalization Records website and the FamilySearch Research wiki United States Naturalization and Citizenship for an overview of the naturalization process.


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