5 Replies Latest reply on Feb 27, 2020 11:21 AM by Linda Ciola

    Seeking Intent to Become a US Citizen

    Linda Ciola Newbie

      How did one obtain an "Intent to become a US citizen" in 1871 in New York City? If you had to fill out an application, are those applications available? And what about after you were a citizen, were there other papers to fill out before you could receive your US citizenship?

        • Re: Seeking Intent to Become a US Citizen
          Lisha Penn Navigator

          Dear Ms. Wettstone/Ciola,

           

          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

           

          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 then "Petition for Naturalization" (”second papers”). After the petition was granted, a certificate of citizenship was issued to the alien. Note that these two steps did not have to take place in the same court.  Further note that exceptions to the two-step process can include cases of derivative citizenship, processes for minor aliens 1824-1906, and special consideration for veterans.

           

          Prior to September 27, 1906, any "Court of Record" (municipal, county, state, or Federal) could grant United States citizenship. Often petitioners went to the court most geographically convenient for them. If a naturalization originated 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.

           

          As a general rule, the National Archives does not have naturalization records created in state or local courts because it primarily holds federal records. However, a few indexes and records have been donated to the National Archives from counties, states, and local courts. Researchers should contact the National Archives facility serving the state in which the petitioner resided to determine if records from lower courts are available. In certain cases county court naturalization records maintained by the National Archives are available as microfilm publications. Records from state and local courts are often at state archives or county historical societies.

           

          You may wish to review the National Archives Naturalization Records website for additional information.

           

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

           

          [Information provided by Elizabeth Burnes, Subject Matter Expert]

          4 people found this helpful
            • Re: Seeking Intent to Become a US Citizen
              Linda Ciola Newbie

              Thank you for your answer, it is a big help and it is so interesting to learn the process!  I am seeking the names of the paperwork that was issued for one to receive the documents that you mentioned.

               

              How did one prove that they resided in the US for two years before filing a "Declaration of Intention" ("first papers") to become a citizen? What documents did one have to fill out to receive a Declaration of Intention? An application? Did you have to have a birth certificate?

               

              I have my copy of the court issued "Declaration of Intention" and "Petition for Naturalization '' for the relative I am interested in, I am interested in the paperwork prior to that and where does one find those documents?

               

              My relative filed an intention in the County and City of New York March 1876 and a Petition in Hudson County, NJ on October 24, 1879. On those papers it states he arrived in this country in 1871. Thank you for all you do!

                • Re: Seeking Intent to Become a US Citizen
                  Lisha Penn Navigator

                  Dear Ms. Wettstone/Ciola,

                   

                  Thank you for reposting another request on History Hub!

                   

                  Prior to 1906, the naturalization process was not standardized. Each judge could determine the requirements surrounding what a declarant or petitioner had to show or submit in order to complete the naturalization process.

                   

                  The documents obtained from the county courts will likely be the only naturalization record that exists for your relative. Although they may have had to show documents in court, those records would not have been retained or documented in any file. It is possible that the county judge may not have required any supporting documentation at all, or that your relative may have brought supporting records that were shown and taken home. It is unlikely that records presented during naturalization proceedings were kept by the court. Moreover, NARA is unable to ascertain which documents were required of your relative during their case.

                   

                  In the pre-1906 time frame, filing a Declaration or Petition could happen a number of ways. In some cases, the only documentation is an entry in the court journal that an individual appeared in court and declared/petitioned (a single line entry). In others, different variations on the Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization forms; some forms record only the individual’s name and country of origin, while others might include further biographical detail.  The process was typically court-by-court because it was not standardized and forms were not uniform at that time. 

                   

                  In many instances, there were also witnesses present at the proceedings who would support the declarant or petitioner’s claims. Unfortunately, there is no documentation of their statements; and it is rare to see references to witnesses on the forms unless deemed incompetent or provided false statements.

                   

                  We hope this is helpful.

                   

                  [Information provided by Elizabeth Burnes, Subject Matter Expert]

                  2 people found this helpful