5 Replies Latest reply on Mar 23, 2022 7:20 PM by Susannah Brooks

    Seeking Citizenship application of Manuel Bettencourt

    Suzanne Joseph Wayfarer

      My grandfather, Manuel Jose Bettencourt filed for citizenship in the Superior Court of the State of California in the County of Sonoma, California  on the 3rd of November 1886. Where can I find a copy of this record? It looks like something was wrote across this document making it hard to read. Thank you for your help.

        • Re: Seeking Citizenship application of Manuel Bettencourt
          Susannah Brooks Ranger

          It looks like he lost his citizenship in 1928.  This is the best I can read, what was written across the original document:

          This ___ of Citizenship heretofore made on the 30th November 1886 is hereby cancelled , set aside, revoked as per order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.  ____ dated October 25, 1928. Us Court Clerk, signature, Deputy. [lines indicate 2 words I cannot decipher]

          • Re: Seeking Citizenship application of Manuel Bettencourt
            Lisha Penn Ranger

            Dear Ms. Joseph,


            Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


            We searched the National Archives Catalog and located the Population Schedules for the 1890 Census; the Population Schedules for the 1900 Census, 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 contain information about a Manuel J. Bettencourt who is living with his wife Mary and children in California. The 1920 Census indicated his citizenship status as an alien. The 1940 Census schedules are digitized and available using the Catalog. For more information about the non-digitized schedules, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) via email at archives1reference@nara.gov.


            You may wish to search Ancestry or FamilySearch for the U.S. Census. 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.


            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. A “naturalized alien” refers to someone who is born in another country, and later obtains citizenship in the United States after applying and meeting the citizenship requirements.


            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 National Archives at San Francisco (RW-SB) at sanbruno.archives@nara.gov has custody of the U.S. District Court for the Southern (San Francisco) Division of the Northern District of California in the Records of District Courts of the United States (Record Group 21). No central index exists. To ensure a successful request with RW-SB, 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 when your inquire about the November 3, 1886 court document.


            You may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgment as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1 and RW-SB. 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.


            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).


            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 from September 27, 1906 through March 31, 1956 within Certificate Files (C-Files). Beginning on April 1, 1956, INS began filing all naturalization records in a subject’s Alien File (A-File). C-Files and certain A-Files may be requested through the USCIS Genealogy Program.


            Please see NARA’s Naturalization Records website for more information.


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