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Naturalization Records

Learn how to use naturalization records to research your family history

Naturalization is the process of becoming a citizen of a country. In the United States, it is a proceeding filed in a court of record. The first step in the naturalization process is to file a Declaration of Intention that the immigrant wishes to become a citizen of the United States. Declarations of Intention are sometimes referred to as First Papers. This document could be filed soon after the immigrant’s arrival in the United States of America.  The Declaration of Intention does not have to be filed in the same court of record where the immigrant petitions for final naturalization.

After meeting residency requirements for time and behavior, the immigrant filed a Petition for Naturalization.  The Naturalization Petition is also known as Second Papers. If the court approved the naturalization, the immigrant took a naturalization oath or oath of allegiance to the USA. The immigrant received a certificate of naturalization as proof of citizenship. Minor children automatically became citizens when their father was naturalized. Depending on the laws at the time, a wife may or may not have been allowed to become a naturalized citizen as part of her husband's naturalized status.

Where can I find naturalization records?


1790-1906
City, county, state, and Federal courts could naturalize immigrants. Check the court of the city or county where the immigrant lived for a naturalization record. Search the Online Collection Catalog  for Ohio county court records held at the Ohio History Connection archives. Visit our archives to do research or find out about submitting a research request using our Services information.

1906-1917
In 1906, Congress created the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (now the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS). The Federal Government created standardized forms which the courts of record were required to use. Both state and federal courts were allowed to naturalize. In Ohio, county courts of common pleas and probate courts handled the naturalization process. Use the Online Collection Catalog to search for Ohio's county court naturalization records held in the archives of the Ohio History Connection. Visit our archives to do research or find out about submitting a search request using our Services information.

1917 to present
Ohio county courts of common pleas and probate courts continue to process naturalizations, but naturalizations become more likely to be handled by Federal Government United States District Courts. A copy of naturalization certificate files from September 27, 1906 to April 21, 1956 is on file with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

If you have any questions about Naturalization records, please contact us at reference@ohiohistory.org or 614.297.2510.