Naturalization Records

Naturalization is the process of becoming a citizen of another country different than the country you were born in. In the United States, it is a judicial proceeding.

What is the naturalization process?

The first process was to file a Declaration of Intention that the immigrant wished to become a citizen of the United States. They are sometimes called First Papers. This document was often filed soon after the immigrant’s arrival in the United States of America.

After meeting the residency and citizenship requirements, the immigrant filed a Petition for Naturalization which often is known as Second Papers. If the judge approved the naturalization, the immigrant took a naturalization oath or oath of allegiance to the USA. They were given a certificate of naturalization. Children automatically became citizens when their father was naturalized. Depending on the laws at the time, wives may or may not have been allowed to become a naturalized citizen.

Where can I find naturalization records?

City, county, state, and Federal courts could naturalize immigrants. Check the court of the city or county where they lived for a naturalization record. Search the Online Collection Catalog for Ohio county court records at the Ohio History Connection. If you know the county, request a copy or research

In 1906, Congress created the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (now the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of USCIS). They created standardized forms which the courts were required to use. Both state and federal courts were allowed to naturalize, but increasingly the federal courts handled the majority of naturalizations. In Ohio, county Courts of Common Pleas and Probate Courts granted Certificates of Naturalizations. Check the Online Collection Catalog for the county court records that the Ohio History Connection has. Click here to learn how to request a copy or research.

1917 to present
The majority of naturalizations are conducted by United States District Courts in Ohio. A copy of naturalization certificate files from September 27, 1906 to April 21, 1956 is on file with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.

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