are among the most valued records for family historians. In many
cases, this is not so much due to the information that they
contain, as for what they represent. Before 1906, there was
often very little data in these naturalization records, but
these documents remain an important piece in the story of our
In 1906, the Bureau of
Immigration and Naturalization was created in an attempt to
standardize the entire immigration and naturalization process.
Before that time, there was likely confusion for the immigrant
and subsequent confusion for the descendant trying to locate
their ancestor's naturalization. The difficulty is that records
of naturalization before 1906 could be located with any court.
The Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization created
standardized forms upon which the naturalization paperwork was
to be completed. The Bureau determined which courts were
permitted to naturalize, with an eventual emphasis on federal
Some points to keep in
mind as you start your search for naturalization records:
Naturalization was not required and many of our ancestors may
never have bothered to establish citizenship status
immigrants returned to their homeland and never naturalized.
were not required to become separately naturalized until 1922
children of American citizens (naturalized or by nativity) and
children born in the U.S. have not been required to
Naturalization records in hand with
Immigration records can provide a more complete picture of your
ancestor's US Immigration.
These records contain:
- New York Passenger Lists
- Baltimore Passenger Lists
- Philadelphia Passenger Lists
- New Orleans Passenger Lists
Expect to find rich details such as:
Age: clue for birth and
baptismal records in the old country.
Occupation: provides insight into the ancestor's life
before they came to America.
Place of Origin: know where to look for records based on
where the ancestor emigrated.
Destination: know where to look in the U.S. Federal
Census and other records - look in the next census taken after
Name of Ship and Registry Number: obtain a photo of the
ship and a description of its size, voyages, and history to add
context to the ancestor's journey.
Type of Ship: sail or steam? Bark or brig? Envision
Port and Date of Departure: combined with the arrival
date, learn how many days the ancestor was at sea before they
arrived in America.
Port and Date of Arrival: what was happening the day they
arrived? Was it a blustery winter day or a sweltering summer
National Archives Series Number, Microfilm Number, and List
Number: details on where to find the original documents.
This is the most extensive collection of immigration records available
The chances of finding information on your ancestors is
-- Includes five centuries of records (1500's-1900's), covering
many different nationalities/ethnic groups and all major ports
-- The largest, most continuous, and most uniform body of
passenger records for the entire country (with the exception of
the U.S. Federal Census records)
-- Whether your ancestors were German, British, Irish, Canadian,
Chinese or among the immigrants from the more than 100 other
countries included in this collection, they left a record of
their journey to America
-- The passenger lists are from every port of arrival in the
U.S. (Atlantic and Pacific Ports) and Canada