New York Naturalization and Citizenship

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Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Introduction[edit | edit source]

If you do not know if your ancestor was naturalized, search for important clues in federal censuses (1870–1920) and state censuses (1825–1925). The 1925 state census, which is indexed and available on Ancestry, specifically asks for the date and place of naturalization. Voting registers often give similar information.

Colonial[edit | edit source]

Between 1664 and 1708 aliens occasionally sought British citizenship through the King of England or by a special act of Parliament. The Governor of New York or a deputy could also grant a letter of denization (similar to naturalization). Because the process was quite costly, most immigrants did not apply.

Oaths of allegiance were also taken in 1664, 1673, 1687, and 1776. Most colonial naturalizations kept during the colonial period followed a 1740 Act of Parliament. Colonial naturalization records rarely give such information as age or town of origin.

Most existing records are found in the session laws and in:

  • Bockstruck, Lloyd de Witt, Denizations and Naturalizations in the British Colonies in America, 1607-1775 (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, c2005). At various libraries; FHL book 970 P4b. Indexes sessions laws and five other sources with colonial naturalizations and denizations. Some information is difficult to reference back to the original record.
  • Giuseppi, M. S. Naturalizations of Foreign Protestants in the American and West Indian Colonies (Baltimore, Maryland : Genealogical Publishing Company, 1979). Abstracted on; At various libraries; FHL book 973 P4gm 1979. Contains 10 pages for New York and includes details on residence, occupation, religion and date of naturalization. 
  • Scott, Kenneth and Kenn Stryker-Rodda,Denizations, Naturalizations, and Oaths of Allegiance in Colonial New York (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1975). On ($); At various libraries; FHL book 974.7 P4sc
  • Wolfe, Richard J. "The Colonial Naturalization Act of 1740 With a List of Persons Naturalized in New York Colony, 1740-1769," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 94, No. 3 (Jul. 1963):132-147. Digital version at New York Family History ($); FHL Book 974.7 B2n v. 94.
  • Penrose, Maryly B. "New York Naturalizations, 1789," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 112, No. 1 (Jan. 1981):16-17. Digital version at New York Family History ($); FHL Book 974.7 B2n v. 112.
  • O'Neill, Terri Bradshaw. "Naturalizations in the New York Secretary of State Deeds," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 139, No. 3 (Jul. 2008):186-193. Digital version at New York Family History ($); FHL Book 974.7 B2n v. 139. 1680s-1710s.

Post 1790[edit | edit source]

After 1790, aliens could declare their intention to become citizens and later be naturalized in any court of record. Most naturalizations took place in the county courts of common pleas, but they were also recorded in city, mayors', district, and other courts. After 1906, naturalizations were usually handled by the county supreme courts and district courts.

The county courthouse have naturalization records from 1790 to the present. They also have separate volumes of military petitions of soldiers naturalized following the Civil War and the first World War. You can obtain copies of the papers from the clerk of the appropriate court.

Naturalization documents include declarations of intention, petitions for naturalization, certificates of arrival, and certificates of naturalization (after 1906).

New York Published Source

  • Scott, Kenneth, Early New York Naturalizations: Abstracts of Naturalization Records from Federal, State and Local Courts, 1792–1840 (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1981). At various libraries FHL book 974.7 P4s - May show foreign birthplace, age, or residence in New York. Abstracts of:
  • New York City Court of Common Pleas (1792–1840)
  • District Court for the Southern district (1824–1840)
  • New York County Superior Court (1828–1840)
  • Marine Court of New York City (1807–40)
  • Some Queens, Richmond, and Brooklyn county court records.

Alien Landowners
To own land and pass the land to their heirs, an alien had to declare to be a citizen of the United States. This law has created some records regarding these aliens.

Alien depositions of intent to become citizens from 1825 through 1913 are at the New York State Archives. These were statements made by aliens who wanted to buy land. They showed the alien's intention to stay in the United States and become a citizen as soon as legally possible. Because the desire to buy land was impacted by this law, the alien was often motivated to formally declare his intention to become a citizen at the same time. Thus, an alien deposition can often be a clue as to where the declaration was filed.

Prior to 1825, aliens could be enabled to hold land by an act of the state legislature. The acts seldom gave details on the alien – just the name and the date of the act.[1] These books and articles contain a description of the records and names of the aliens:

  • Scott, Kenneth, "Resident Aliens Enabled to Hold Land in New York State 1790-1825," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 1 (Mar. 1979): 42-57. Digital version at National Genealogical Society website ($); FHL Book 973 B2ng v. 67 (1979).
  • Scott, Kenneth and Roseanne Conway, New York Alien Residents, 1825-1848 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1978). {{WorldCat|4377254|disp=At various libraries]; FHL book 974.7 R2s - Gives details from the depositions, including counties of residence, and can be used as an index to finding declarations in this time period.

Registration of Aliens
From 1798 to 1828 an "Alien Report and Registry" was required of all aliens. Each alien was to gave details on when and where they arrived, and sometimes names of family members. The Alien report was a Federal requirement and the records do not always survive. In New York State some counties (notably St. Lawrence) maintained separate registers of Alien Reports, but in most cases if the report survived, it is included as a loose paper with the Declaration of Intention or in the court minutes. Records are at the county courthouse and sometimes on microfilm at the Family History Library.

  • Scott, Kenneth, British Aliens in the United States During the War of 1812 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1979), pp. 58-241. On; At various libraries; FHL book 973 W4s – New York residents make up 50% of this source and includes alien registeration under the Federal law of 6 July 1812.  States where they lived, how long they had been in the United States, and other details. It can be used to tell an ancestor’s citizenship status and where he might have been naturalized. The fear was that these individuals would join British forces.

Alien Public Office Holders
From 1807 to 1817, New York City kept a register documenting the citizenship status of residents appointed to public office. Moorhouse published abstracts of these records:

How to Find Naturalization Records[edit | edit source]

Because an alien could naturalize in any court of record, naturalization indexes and records are found in courts that performed naturalizations. For New York, these courts include county, city, district, circuit, superior, marine, common pleas, and supreme.

Depending on the court, their records can be housed in the court it originated or the National Archives Northeast Region (Boston). Many naturalization records are microfilmed and are at National Archive regional branches and the Family History Library. More and more microfilmed records are being digitized and are now available online.

Pathfinder to New York Naturalization Records - provided by the New York State Archives

Microfilmed naturalization records from New York's county courts (1791-1980) are online on They are not currently digitally indexed, so it's most convenient to use one of the indexes mentioned below in order to find document locations, then browse the collection by county to find the records you want. New York County (Manhattan), Kings County (Brooklyn) and Queens County records are all there (including declarations of intent, certificates of arrival, and petitions for naturalization). At this time, Bronx County, unfortunately, only has the microfilm of their index, not the records themselves.

Microfilmed naturalization records from New York's Southern (1825-1946), Eastern (1865-1957), and Western Districts (1907-1966)  are also online on Some are indexed and some are not. If the records don't show up in a search, that doesn't mean they're not there. If you've found a reference to a document that doesn't show up in a FamilySearch search, then you can still browse the collection to find it. Or, if you've found a document in an index on FamilySearch but it isn't linked to the document itself, you can browse the collection to find it.

Websites[edit | edit source]

  • 1790-1828 - Chapin, Mrs. Edward J. "Naturalizations in Federal Courts, New York District, 1790-1828," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 97, No. 1 (Jan. 1966):1-8; Vol. 97, No. 2 (Apr. 1966):106-114; Vol. 97, No. 3 (Jul. 1966):157-162; Vol. 97, No. 4 (Oct. 1966):219-222; Vol. 97, No. 4 (Oct. 1966):219-221. This court later became the Southern District.

Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:

The National Archives at New York City[edit | edit source]

National Archives at New York City
Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
One Bowling Green
New York, NY 10014
Phone: 866-840-1752
Phone: 212-401-1620
Fax: 212-401-1638

New York Naturalizations Indexes and Records Include:
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
Covers counties: Bronx, Dutchess, New York (Manhattan), Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties.

1917-1950 on Historical Records at
on - ($)
  • Index to Overseas Military Petitions for World War II and the Korean War
German Genealogy Group
1824-1941 on Historical Records at
1824-1959 on German Genealogy Group
1824-1959 on
1824-1941 on - ($) - ($)

  • Declarations of Intention, 1842-1959; 1968-1991; FHL film 1468586 (first of 63) for 1845-1911
  • Overseas Military Petitions - World War II and Korean War
  • Petitions for Name Change (Oath Ceremonies), 1991-1996
  • Petitions for Naturalization, 1824-1991
1824-1941 on Historical Records at
  • Registration of Aliens, 1815-1831
  • Repatriation Applications, 1937-1970
  • Transfer Petitions for Naturalization, 1953-1991

U.S. Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York

1824-1941 on Historical Records at
1846-1876; 1906-1911 German Genealogy Group
1846-1876; 1906-1911 on
1824-1941 on - ($)

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Covers counties: Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, and Richmond (Staten Island) counties.

  • Index to Declaration of Intention, 1909-1925; 1934-1958
  • Index to Military Petitions for World War II and Korean War
German Genealogy Group
1865-1957 German Genealogy Group
1865-1957 on - ($)
On Historical Records at - free, images and index
  • Military Petitions-World War I, World War II, Korean War
  • Petitions for Naturalization, 1865-1991
  • Transfer Petitions for Naturalization, 1952-1992

U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York
Covers counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates counties.[2]

  • Index to Declarations of Intention, 1903-1966
1906-1928 on German Genealogy Group
1906-1928 on
1907-1966 on Historical Records
1903-1966 on German Genealogy Group
1903-1966 on - ($)
1906-1966 on - ($)
  • Declarations of Intention, 1906-1963
  • Military Petitions-World War I, World War II and Korean War
  • Petitions for Naturalization, 1903-1966
  • Repatriations, 1937-1970

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York
Covers counties: Albany, Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Onondaga, Otsego, Oswego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Warren, and Washington Counties.  

  • Index to Petitions for Naturalization - 1821-1855, 1906
German Genealogy Group 1821-1855
  • Petitions for Naturalization, 1821-1855; 1906

World War I

  • Military Index to Naturalizations of World War I Soldiers, 1918 - NARA M1952 (may cover multiple district courts) - ($)

Other Courts - New York

  • Bureau of Citizenship and Naturalization Services (BCIS), Petitions for Naturalization filed Federal, State and Local Courts located in New York City, 1792-1906
  • Index to Petitions for Naturalization, 1792-1906 - ($)

Family History Library[edit | edit source]

New York City and County Records
The Family History Library has microfilmed naturalizations for nearly all New York counties from the 1790s to 1906. The records for some counties were filmed to the 1930s. The county microfilmed records can be viewed at the Family History Library or at your local family history center. Do a place search in the FamilySearch Catalog using the name of the city/county. Naturalization records are listed under the topic, Naturalization and Citizenship. Instructions on how to use the FamilySearch Catalog.

New York Federal Court Records
Federal Naturalization Indexes and Records Records for New York federal courts can also be found at the Family History Library. Do a place search for New York state records in the FamilySearch Catalog using "New York." Naturalization records are listed under the topic, Naturalization and Citizenship and Naturalization and Citizenship - Indexes. Instructions on how to use the FamilySearch Catalog.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services - Post 1906[edit | edit source]

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has instituted the Genealogy Program for public access to all records from 1906 to 1956 created by this agency, formerly Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Review the Avoid Common Errors website to expedite your order and ensure success for your request.

  • The following records can be requested online or by mail:
Certificate Files (C-files) from September 27, 1906 to April 1, 1956
Alien Registration Forms from August 1, 1940 to March 31, 1944
Visa files from July 1, 1924 to March 31, 1944
Registry Files from March 2, 1929 to March 31, 1944
Alien Files (A-files) numbered below 8 million (A8000000) and documents therein dated prior to May 1, 1951
  • When ordering by mail, use forms G-1041 (for an index search) and G-1041A (for obtaining the record). Do not submit a request for records G-1041A until you have completed an index search unless you have a valid file number]. Once the form is filled out, include a money order or cashier's check. Cash or a personal check will not be accepted. There are no refunds for incorrect file numbers submitted or for negative results. The mailing address is:
USCIS Genealogy Program
P.O. Box 805925
Chicago, Illinois 60680-4120

The fee schedule is:

Index Search--$20 (form G-1041)
Microfilm copies--$20 (form G-1041A])
Paper copies--$35 (form G-1041A])

Form G-639, the FOIA formis used to obtain naturalization records created after 1956.

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

New York Naturalization Records

  • Schaefer, Christina K., Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Pub. Co., c1997), pp. 229-248. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 973 P4s - gives an overview of naturalization records in New York State, including a list of published abstracts and indexes, as well as what statewide records and county records are available on microfilm at the Family History Library as of 1997. Schaefer also gives an overview of the naturalization process and the Federal laws regulating it.

US Naturalization Records

  • Szucs, Loretto Dennis, They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins (Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Pub., c1998). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL book 973 P47t Information on the location of naturalization offices and how to find naturalization records on the internet is given, but maybe outdated.

Naturalization Laws

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Gordon Lewis Remington, FUGA, “Alien Landowners in New York State,” The Irish at Home and Abroad, 1, no. 4(Spring 1994): 8-9.
  2. "Western District Federal Court Naturalization," Italian Genealogical Group, accessed 2 December 2011,