Naturalization papers

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This being my fist trip through the naturalization paper process I did a bit of research to see what I was getting into. The relatives that I need information on would have been naturalized before 1906. This process then takes me to each individual county seat instead of one localized government supply. A bit more time consuming to complete and I will have to call each county individually to find out costs and process. So far Peter Louis Siffrinn would have been naturalized after 1882, there is a question as to if it was possible for this to have happened in 1884, just 2 years after arriving in the U.S. Peter possibly would have been naturalized when his father was naturalized in Elk county. The other relative would be Ulrich West; his papers would be in Butler county and date to 1844, 15 years after arriving in the U.S. and a year following his marriage.


Prior to 1906, any "court of record" (municipal, county, state, or Federal) could grant U.S. citizenship. As a general rule, the National Archives does not have naturalization records created in State or local courts. The NARA web site is a great place to search for military history on relatives.


Below is abbreviated from

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, state circuit courts usually administered the naturalization process established by federal law. During this time period, most applicants for naturalization were men. From 1855 until the Married Woman’s Act of 1922, citizenship was automatically conferred on the wife of any male citizen. Since 1922, women have been required to obtain their own citizenship. Minor children automatically became citizens when their fathers received citizenship.

Three common types of records document the naturalization process: declarations of intent, petitions, and naturalization certificates.

Researchers should note that about 25 percent of aliens never became citizens or made only a declaration to become a citizen. Many people filed only a declaration of intent, because, according to the Wisconsin constitution, it was all they needed in order to vote. Also, the extent and type of information contained in naturalization records changes over time. Recent records are much more detailed.


Initially an alien resident filed a declaration of intention, also commonly known as "first papers" with an authorized court, indicating their intention to become a citizen, to renounce all allegiance to any foreign state, and to renounce any foreign title or order of nobility. At least two years after making the declaration (after 1906, no more than seven years later), an alien who had been a resident of the United States for at least five years could petition the court for admission to citizenship.

The names of the applicant and the foreign ruler whose allegiance was renounced and the date are always shown on the declaration. Later declarations also include some or all of the following information: age or birth date; place of birth; date and place of entry into the U.S.; applicant’s oath; and affidavits of two witnesses who attested to the applicant’s residency and good character.


-The petition form can be a gold mine of information and usually contain a lot more information than what is found on the naturalization papers-

Petitions, which were often called "petitions and oaths," "petitions and records," or "second papers," documented the second step in the naturalization process. After serving the required period of residency, the applicant petitioned the court for admission to citizenship. The court then issued a naturalization certificate.

The petition consisted of the applicant’s petition to the court, an oath of allegiance, and affidavits of two witnesses attesting to the petitioner’s good character and residency. The petition may also include the order of the court admitting the applicant to citizenship, especially for records filed after 1902. The exact content of petitions filed before

The court order showed the petitioner’s name and the date of admission to citizenship. At the time of naturalization, petitioners were allowed to change their name, which was documented in the court order. A copy of the declaration of intent and a certificate of arrival often were attached to the petition.


Naturalization certificates, often called "third papers," were issued to newly naturalized citizens as evidence of their status. Prior to 1907, standardized forms were not used, and few courts retained copies of the certificates. Copies that have survived were preprinted forms in bound volumes. Typically, they repeated most of the information found in the petition.



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