West Virginia Naturalization Records - FamilySearch Historical Records
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West Virginia Naturalization Records, 1814-1991
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|West Virginia, |
|Flag of West Virginia|
|Location of West Virginia|
|West Virginia County Clerks|
- 1 What is in This Collection?
- 2 What Can These Records Tell Me?
- 3 Collection Content
- 4 How Do I Search This Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 Known Issues
- 7 Citing This Collection
What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]
The collection consists of a variety of naturalization records for 32 of 55 West Virginia counties. The records cover the years 1814 to 1991. Records include the following:
- Declarations of intention
- Oaths of allegiance
- Certificates of naturalization
- Registers of naturalizations granted and/or denied
- Card files of naturalization
- Naturalization orders
- Lists of naturalized citizens
- Naturalization dockets
Naturalization is the process of granting citizenship privileges and responsibilities to foreign-born residents. The counties recorded naturalization procedures in the court records as legal proof of citizenship. The courts with authority to deal with naturalizations changed several times so the card index was created as a way to quickly access specific records.
Naturalization to become a U.S. citizen was a two-part process: the Declaration of Intent to Naturalize, or First Papers, and the Naturalization Record (including the Naturalization Petition), or Final Papers. The First Papers were normally filed five years before the Final Papers because of the five-year residency requirement to become a citizen.
The first naturalization act was passed in 1802. Immigrants to the United States were not required to apply for citizenship. Of those who did apply, many did not complete the requirements for citizenship.
No centralized files existed before 1906. In 1906 federal forms replaced the various formats that had been used by the various courts. Copies were sent to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), creating a central file for naturalization papers. The INS is now known as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Image Visibility[edit | edit source]
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What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]
The following information may be found in these records:
- Year of immigration
- Native country
- Birth date
Collection Content[edit | edit source]
Sample Images[edit | edit source]
Coverage Table[edit | edit source]
The following counties are included in this collection.
How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- The full name of your ancestor
- The approximate immigration and naturalization dates
- The ancestor’s residence
If you do not know this information, check the 1900 census and then calculate the possible year of naturalization based on the date of immigration. The 1920 census may tell you the exact year of immigration or naturalization.
Search the Index[edit | edit source]Search by name on the Collection Details Page.
- Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
- Click Search to show possible matches
View the Images[edit | edit source]
View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page
- Select County
- Select Record Type, Date Range and Volume to view the images
|More images are available in the FamilySearch Catalog at West Virginia Naturalization Records, 1814-1991. Some catalog records link to multiple references. In this case, click on a reference to find a camera icon to see images.|
How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]
Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.
What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]
I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]
- Add the new information to your records
- Use the information to find the person in other records
- Analyze the entry to see if it provides additional clues to find other records of the person or their family
I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]
- Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names
- Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor
- Search the indexes of nearby localities
- As with any index, transcription errors may occur. When at all possible, search in original documents
Research Helps[edit | edit source]
The following articles will help you in your research for your family in the state of West Virginia.
- Beginning Research in United States Naturalization Records
- West Virginia Guided Research
- Research Tips and Strategies
- Step-by-Step Research
Known Issues[edit | edit source]
Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]
Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.