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Finding U.S. Naturalization Records

a genealogy guide

Finding Naturalization Records Created before 1906

  • The Family History Library (microfilmed records)... Some Naturalization records prior to 27 September 1906 can be found on microfilm from the Family History Library. Try a search in the Family History Library Catalog for the place (the county, but sometimes the city or even the state) where your ancestors were living at the time they were naturalized. Then look for the topic called "Naturalization and citizenship." You may also see a topic called "Naturalization and citizenship - Indexes" -- you might check both topics. Microfilm rolls can usually be ordered from local Family History Centers.
  • Book: Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States by Christina Schaefer
    This book can help locate Naturalization records (especially those prior to Sept 1906). It contains a directory divided by state and then by county, showing the available records for each place, and where to find them. Click on the title for ordering information from the publisher. Or you might try your local library.
  • Also see the online indexes and finding aids listed below

Finding Naturalization Records Created after 1906 (September 27, 1906 and later)

  • Online Records: Collection of Online Naturalization Records at Fold3 (formerly Footnote) includes some online digitized naturalization records (indexed) for Southern California (1887-1940); Maryland (1906-1930); Massachusetts (1906-1929); Cleveland, Ohio (1907-1946); and Pennsylvania (1795-1930); plus some indexes for New York City and State (searches are free; downloading copies of the documents requires payment)
  • The Family History Library (microfilmed records)... Try a search in the Family History Library Catalog for the place (county, or city if large) where your ancestors were living at the time they were naturalized. Then look under the "Naturalization & Citizenship" topic. Microfilm rolls can usually be ordered for viewing at local LDS Family History Centers (see link in the above section).
  • USCIS - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the INS - Immigration and Naturalization Service)
    The USCIS has copies of Naturalization records from 27 September 1906 and later. Records available through the USCIS Genealogy Program include Naturalization Certificate Files from September 27, 1906 to April 1, 1956, along with some Alien Files, Alien Registration Forms, and other records. There are restrictions and fees. You can use the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain copies of these records...
    • See the USCIS website for instructions for making genealogy requests: USCIS - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - Genealogy
      • You can download Index and Record request forms from the USCIS website at the link above - look for the "How to Make a Genealogy Request" link on the right side at their website
    • If the person was born less than 100 years ago you must provide proof of death or, if the person is still living, you must provide notorized permission from the living person to obtain the records
    • If the person was born more than 100 years ago you do not need to provide proof of death
    • Please be aware that INS/USCIS requests for records can take several months to complete
  • The Court Where the Naturalization Occurred (or an archive where the records may now be stored)... See some of the geographic links below.
If your immigrant ancestor was in the military during WWI you might try:

Passport Applications and Records

U.S. Passport Applications 1795-1925 - Online Collection at Ancestry (requires payment) digitized passport records from National Archives Microfilm Publications M1371, M1372, M1490 and M1834.

Passport Applications - Information a guide from the National Archives about these records

The Naturalization Process and Types of Records

Types of Naturalization Records briefly describes the kinds of records created in the naturalization process

Women and Naturalization a helpful article by INS historian Marian Smith


Alien Case Files (A-Files)

U.S., Index to Alien Case Files at the National Archives at Kansas City, 1944-2003 (at Ancestry/requires payment) indexes A-Files from 1944-2003 for immigrants born before 1909 who were not U.S. citizens; from National Archives Microfilm Publication M278; some files not yet included

Finding Aids for Specific Locations




Return to the Emigration and Immigration Page

Finding Passenger Lists 1820-1940s

Online Searchable Death Indexes for the USA




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