Dear Mr. Harpur,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Passenger Lists, 1817 - 1897 (M237) of vessels arriving at the Port of New York in the Records of the U.S. Customs Service (Record Group 36) that may include the lists of ships, such as the Savannah) carrying Hugh, William D and John Harper to the United States. For more information about these records, please contact the National Archives at New York (RE-NY) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Statue of Liberty—Ellis Island Foundation, Inc has an online searchable database of 65 million records of passengers arriving to the Port of New York from 1820 to 1957 that may include the persons you seek.
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the Population Schedules for the 1850 Census, the Population Schedules for the 1860 Census, the Population Schedules for the 1870 Census, the Population Schedules for the 1880 Census, the Population Schedules for the 1890 Census; the Population Schedules for the 1900 Census, and the Population Schedules for the 1910 Census in the Records of the Bureau of the Census (Record Group 29) that may contain information about Hugh, William D., and John Harper in New York. Census schedules can provide additional information to aid you in your research. For example the 1890 Census is the first to record individuals' arrival dates, whether naturalized and what stage in the naturalization process the immigrant was in. For more information about the non-digitized schedules, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) via email at email@example.com.
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.
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. The records of the Federal District courts for the state of New York are held at the National Archives at New York. To request a search of the indexes for the Districts of New York, please contact the National Archives at New York (RE-NY) at firstname.lastname@example.org. No central index exists. To ensure a successful request with the National Archives, researchers 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.
Due to the continued impact of COVID-19, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RE-NY and RDT1. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience as we balance mission-critical work and the safety of our staff during the pandemic. Please check NARA’s web page about COVID-19 updates for the latest information.
Many of our passenger lists, immigration records and census records have been made available online by our digitization partners Ancestry and FamilySearch.org. There may be a fee for using Ancestry. Instead, please check for access at your local library as many library systems subscribe to these sites, making them free for their patrons.
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!