Research Naturalization and Citizenship Records
The naturalization process consisted of two parts. First, a resident alien declared his intent, in court, to become a United States citizen at some future date. This was called the Declaration of Intention. Second, the individual renounced his allegiance to his home county and swore allegiance to the United States in a citizenship hearing at least two years after the declaration. After completing these requirements, he received the Certificate of Citizenship.
Federal law outlined the naturalization process, but individual courts dictated many of the specifics. An individual could make the Declaration of Intention at any court in the nation; not necessarily to a court in his place of residence. The form varied somewhat from court to court but generally it provides the researcher with only minimal information: the individual's name, country of origin, and the names of two witnesses.
The individual could apply for citizenship two years later provided he had been a U.S. resident for five years and was a resident of the state or territory where the court was located for at least one year. There was no upper time limit to apply for citizenship. Those who had come to the U.S. as minors (whose parents were not naturalized) did not have to file a prior declaration of intention. At the citizenship hearing, the resident alien renounced his allegiance to his home country, witnesses swore to his worthiness of becoming a citizen, and he took an oath to the United States. The court issued a certificate of citizenship to the successful candidate indicating his name, country of origin, witnesses' names, and his sworn fidelity to the United States.
If an individual completed either part or all of this process in Utah, there are many courts to check prior to statehood (1896). Each county had a County Probate Court until 1896. There are also District Courts which served multiple counties. Furthermore, district court boundaries changed over time (see historical jurisdictions chart), so researchers may need to check the records of several district courts. The Utah Supreme Court's records should also be checked. If the residence of the individual is known, it is possible he filed in the most geographically convenient court, but there was no legal requirement to do so.
In 1906 the federal Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (now U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) standardized naturalization procedures. This included providing the same forms for all the courts to use. These contain much more information than the earlier records. The declaration and naturalization forms not only include name and country of origin, but often age, occupation, marital status, immigration information, names of children, etc.
At this time, the individual was required by law to file with the court having jurisdiction over the area in which he lived, not just in any court in the country. The time frame was also narrowed. An individual had to declare his intent to become a citizen at least two years prior to applying for citizenship, but he could only apply for citizenship within seven years after the declaration. Therefore, checking for a Declaration of Intention first can narrow the search for the exact date of naturalization to five years.
Naturalization records are available from many Utah district courts up to the middle of the twentieth century. However, all naturalization records since 1906 have copies available from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A Genealogy Program has now been established to handle requests for historical records dated from 1893 to about 1956. An index exists and may be searched for a fee. Requests for searches and copies of documents are made by mail or online.
For naturalization records
after 1956, submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
National Records Center, FOIA/PA Office
P. O. Box 648010
Lee’s Summit, MO 64064-8010
If the individual was born more than 100 years ago however, the National Archives may have naturalization "Alien Files" created after 1956 as part of an ongoing transfer process.
Finally, if the individual was naturalized very recently, one may be able to request a Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document from USCIS. Submit Form N-565 which is available online at www.uscis.gov/n-565.
Exclusions and Exceptions
Various minority groups (e.g., Chinese, Blacks, Native Americans, Hawaiians) or immigration sources (such as Southern Europe) may not have been permitted citizenship, especially starting later in the 19th century. Though at times veterans were allow to waive parts of the process or wait less time.
- 1882 - Chinese Exclusion Act, which would be extended in some form until 1902 (22 Stat. 58).
- 1891 - Classes of persons denied right to immigrate to U.S.—insane, paupers, persons with contagious diseases, persons convicted of felonies or misdemeanors of moral turpitude, and polygamists (26 Stat. 1084)
- 1900 - Hawaii Organic Act, granting U.S. citizenship to residents on or before August 12, 1898 (31 Stat. 141).
- 1921 - Quota Act limiting immigration from each country based on population in 1910 Census (42 Stat. 5).
- 1924 - Immigration Act with more limits, especially from Southern and Eastern Europe, plus Middle Easterners, East Asians, and Asian Indians (43 Stat. 153).
- 1924 - Indian Citizenship Act, granting citizenship to all Native Americans born within the borders of United States (43 Stat. 253).
- 1965 - "National quotas" replaced with "annual ceilings" for number of immigrants, strongly relying on family relationships for granting requisite visas for immigration (9 Stat. 911).
Women and Children
From 1855 to 1922, a married woman automatically assumed the citizenship of her husband; if an American woman married a foreign national, she lost her U.S. citizenship. Similarly, if a foreign national married a U.S. citizen, she automatically became a citizen. Her only documentation would be her marriage license and the naturalization (or birth) record of her husband.
With the passage of the Cable Act in 1922 women were allowed to naturalize on their own (42 Stat. 1021). A married women whose husband was a citizen did not need to file a Declaration of Intent. A woman who had lost her citizenship through marriage and regained it under the Cable Act could file to naturalize in any naturalization court. In 1936, Congress passed a new act allowing a woman who had lost her citizenship between 1907-1922 through marriage to a foreign national to take an oath of allegiance for citizenship to be restored.
From 1790 to 1940 children under the age of 21 automatically assumed citizenship with the naturalization of their father. Before 1906 names of minor children rarely appear on the declaration or petition forms. If there was no father who could naturalize himself and his family, a minor alien who had lived in the U.S. for at least five years could file the declaration and petition together before his 23rd birthday.
In 1929, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service began issuing a “Certificate of Derivative Citizenship” to women and children who had gained naturalization through the naturalization of their husband or father.
Sources and Further Reading
"Citizenship Through Naturalization." U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 22 Jan. 2013. Web. 1 July 2015. <http://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-naturalization>.
"Early American Immigration Policies." U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 26 Sept. 2013. Web. 1 July 2015. <http://www.uscis.gov/history-and-genealogy/our-history/agency-history/early-american-immigration-policies>.
Smith, Marian L. "'Any Woman Who Is Now or May Hereafter Be Married . . .' Women and Naturalization, Ca. 1802-1940." Prologue Magazine. National Archives and Records Administration, 1998. Web. 1 July 2015. <http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1998/summer/women-and-naturalization-1.html>.
Smith, Marian L. "'Any Woman Who Is Now or May Hereafter Be Married . . .' Women and Naturalization, Ca. 1802-1940, Part 2." Prologue Magazine. National Archives and Records Administration, 1998. Web. 1 July 2015. <http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1998/summer/women-and-naturalization-2.html>.
"Major United States Laws Relating to Immigration and Naturalization: 1790–2005." Citizenship Reference Reports. National Archives and Records Administration, 1 Nov. 2014. Web. 1 July 2015. <http://www.archives.gov/research/naturalization/420-major-immigration-laws.pdf>.
"Research Guide to Selected Bureau of Naturalization Case and Correspondence Files, 1906-1946." Citizenship Reference Reports. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 2013. Web. 1 July 2015. <http://www.archives.gov/research/naturalization/naturalization-files.pdf>.
State Archives Holdings
The following are the principal naturalization holdings of the Utah State Archives. Record books include a full transcription of the declaration or naturalization record and are thus the most informative. Dates reflect holdings of the Utah State Archives in film and/or paper copy. Aside from the Utah State Archives, other records may still be held by the court or have been transferred to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Rocky Mountain branch of the National Archives holds some naturalization records for Second District Court: Weber County (ca. 1907-1913; 1930-), Third District Court: Salt Lake County (ca. 1930-), and Fourth District Court: Utah County (ca. 1939-), as well as some federal district court naturalization records from Utah.
|Territorial Supreme Court|
|Declarations of Intention and Certificates of Citizenship
Record Books, 1851-1895
(also includes some First District Court, 1852-1856 and Third District Court, 1859-1860)
|Territorial District Courts (multiple counties, see historical jurisdiction)|
|First District Court|
|Declaration of Intention Record Books, 1880-1896||Series 85113|
|Certificates of Citizenship Record Book, 1890-1892||Series 83895|
|Second District Court|
|Declarations of Intention Record Books, 1874-1895||Series 85174|
|Certificates of Citizenship Record Book, 1878-1895||Series 85175|
|Third District Court|
|Declarations of intention, 1870-1887.||Series 1656|
|Declarations of Intention Record Books, 1869-1895||Series 85111|
|Certificates of Citizenship Record Books, 1880-1895||Series 85110|
|Fourth District Court|
|Declarations of Intention Record Books, 1878-1895||Index||Series 85169|
|Certificates of Citizenship Record Book, 1894-1896||Series 85170|
|Territorial Probate Courts|
|Beaver County Probate Court|
|Record Books, 1856-1897.||Series 14893|
|Box Elder County Probate Court|
|Certificates of Citizenship Record Book, 1868-1869||Index||Series 85171|
|Iron County Probate Court|
|Minutes, 1853-1868.||Series 17477|
|Millard County Probate Court|
|Minutes, 1854-1862.||Series 26151|
|Salt Lake County Probate Court|
|Declarations of Intention and Certificates of Citizenship Record Books, 1858-1872||Series 85109|
|Sanpete County Probate Court and Sanpete County: Seventh District Court|
|Naturalization Records, 1859-1955||Series 15840|
|Sevier County Probate Court|
|Record book, 1865-1874.||Series 23908|
|Weber County Probate Court|
|Declarations of Intention Record Book, 1860-1866||Series 20786|
|State District Courts|
|Beaver County, Fifth District Court|
|Declarations of Intention Record Books, 1896-1940||Series 85176|
|Naturalization index cards, 1865-1938||Series 29804|
|Naturalization Record Books, 1896-1940||Series 85177|
|Box Elder County, First District Court|
|Declarations of Intention Record Books, 1896-1929||Series 85172|
|Cache County, First District Court|
|Declarations of Intention Record Books, 1896-1929||Series 6176|
|Naturalization Record Books, 1896-1929||Series 85173|
|Carbon County, Seventh District Court|
|Naturalization administrative files, 1906-1936||Series 28956|
|Davis County, Second District Court|
|Naturalization Record Books, 1902-1929||Series 11628|
|Naturalization Records, 1907-1938||Series 11804|
|Emery County, Seventh District Court|
|Naturalization Records, 1904-1942||Series 16856|
|Juab County, Fourth District Court|
|Naturalization Record Books, 1904-1958||Series 85178|
|Citizenship Certificate Stubs, 1908-1928||Index||Series 85180|
|Declarations of intention record books, 1896-1951||Series 85224|
|Millard County, Fifth District Court|
|Naturalization Record Book, 1896-1906||Series 83326|
|Piute County, Sixth District Court|
|Naturalization Records, 1896-1920||Series 18234|
|Salt Lake County, Third District Court|
|Declarations of Intention Record Books, 1896-1959||Series 85108|
|Naturalization Record Books, 1896-1929||Series 3573|
|Citizenship Certificate Stubs, 1907-1925||Series 85112|
|Sanpete County, Seventh District Court Probate Court|
|Naturalization Records, 1859-1955||Series 15840|
|Sevier County, Sixth District Court|
|Declaration of Intention Record Books, 1896-1929||Series 13476|
|Naturalization Record Books, 1896-1929||Series 13475|
|Wasatch County, Fourth District Court|
|Declarations of Intention, 1896-1935 and Naturalization Record Books, 1906-1935||Series 10146|
|Naturalization Record Books, 1896-1906||Index||Series 84156|
|Citizenship Certificate Stubs, 1907-1924||Index||Series 85182|
|Washington County, Fifth District Court|
|Naturalization Record Books, 1896-1940||Series 23595|
|Declarations of Intention Record Books, 1897-1939||Series 23596|
|Citizenship Certificate Stubs, 1913-1929||Series 23597|
|Wayne County, Sixth District Court|
|Naturalization Record Book, 1896-1902||Series 85225|
|Weber County, Second District Court|
|Declarations of Intention Record Books, 1906-1929||Series 83896|
|Naturalization Memorandum Books, 1906-1982||Series 83454|
|Naturalization Record Books, 1896-1939||Series 83892|
Page Last Updated March 3, 2021.