You often hear us talk in the world of genealogy about our immigrant ancestors becoming citizens. Related to that, there is an important time-line break that researchers need to understand in their pursuit of ancestral records for citizenship.
For many of us, myself included, my ancestors came to the United States from Poland during the late 1880s and early 1890s. They started on the pathway to citizenship soon after their arrival. In this timeframe, citizenship was a process that was done through the local court system. It could encompass any of the myriad court levels e.g. Circuit Court, Superior Court, etc. A person living in Illinois could become a citizen through a court system in Indiana.
Citizenship documents at this time were not very valuable as genealogical documents. Your ancestor stated they no longer owed allegiance to whatever governmental system they left. The document was dated. They signed it. A witness signed it. It was formerly signed by a court representative. Not much more to help you discover where they came from. What port? What ship?
I found that the best piece of this kind of document was an emotional connection to seeing the signature of an ancestor and the signature of a witness.
In 1906 a major change took place. It was at this time that the U.S. Federal Government became the central agency where our ancestors passed through on their way to citizenship. No longer was it done through a myriad of different courts. In addition to the centralization process, it was also at this time that much more detailed information was provided by the applicant to the Federal Government. Now it was possible that the applicant for citizenship did start providing where they came from, when did they arrive, what port did they come to, what was the name of the ship, their height, their weight etc.
These post-1906 applications really started providing a great deal of genealogical and personal information about the applicant. You could be lucky to even be able to discover a picture of the applicant!
The agency noted in the blog post heading is now your source to track down the documents of your ancestors citizenship process after 1906. This is an important site that I wanted to share with you to facilitate interacting with the agency to gain the copies of your ancestral naturalization documents you seek after 1906.
There is a great deal of good information at the site to explore.
Check out the following links from the Unites States Citizenship and Immigration Services at:
There is so much more information on the above sites that I encourage you to really “roam” around the site. You will not be able to initiate the search yourself online. The agency will do that for you. There is a fee for the search. It runs between $20 to $35 . It is not inexpensive, but there might be a great deal of valuable information you will discover.
If your ancestor became a citizen after 1906, you will need to work with USCIS to see what documents exist that you can obtain. Become familiar with all they describe at their site. Your reward could be great!
I hope the information at this site can get you going to seek documents of your naturalized ancestor after 1906. That information sure beats the little amount you can obtain for a pre-1906 naturalized ancestor.
Good luck and happy hunting with the USCIS!
Schaumburg Township District Library