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What are Naturalization records?
Naturalization records are papers of a court procedure granting US citizenship to non-citizens. They typically include three documents -- a Declaration of Intention to become a citizen, Petition for Naturalization and Naturalization Certificate.
What does this searchable database include?
The database is ONLY the index to the actual records. It includes the individual's name, the approximate year of filing, and volume and page on
which the record will be found. See below (#18-#29) for an explanation of the "comments" column. The actual records are located at the Kings County Clerk's Office. (see #4).
What do the column headings - “DecVol,” “DecPage,” “PetVol,” and “PetPage” mean? Also, what does "Year" refer to?
These abbreviations stand for the following:
“DecVol” = Volume number in which the Declaration of Intention record can be found.
“DecPage”= Page number on which the Declarations of Intention record can be found.
“PetVol” = Volume number in which the Petition for Naturalization can be found.
“PetPage” = Page number on which the Petition for Naturalization can be found.
You must give the clerk both the volume and page number in order to locate the document you are requesting.
The Year refers to the date of the filing of the Declaration. In over 90% of the cases, its the actual year. Each volume covers approximately one month of filings and we have recorded the from/to dates. For purposes of this table, only the "from" (year) is shown. So, for the last Declaration volume in each year, there may be some included that were filed in January of the next year.
3a. There is no year for the peition in the table....and there is no declaration information, how can I figure out when somebody filed?
Below is a table that can give you a general idea for the Year of Peitition:
||1912-1917 (more of 33 and 143 here)
||1918-1920 (more than 60% of 229 here)
||1921-1922 (3/4 of 305 here)
I found my relative! How can I get copies of the record?
Write to the Kings County Clerk's Office, 360 Adams St., Room 079, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Put “Attention: Naturalization Records” on the outside of the envelop. Enclose a certified check or money order for $10 for each record requested. Make the check payable to the Kings County Clerk's Office. Indicate whether this is a Declaration or Petition, and provide the name, volume and page number.
If there is both a Petition volume/page and Declaration volume/page listed for your relative, only give the Petition volume and page when making your request. Be sure to note that you want all the documents included in the Petition “record” (Petition, Declaration and Certificate of Arrival). A duplicate copy of the Declaration is filed together with the Petition.
What is the difference between a Declaration of Intention, Petition for Naturalization and a Certificate of Naturalization?
Pre-1952, a two-step process was required before an immigrant could become a U.S. citizen. Filing a Declaration of Intention was the first step. The Declaration is sometimes referred to as the “first papers.” The Declaration could be filed anytime after the immigrant arrived. Generally, the law required that the immigrant reside in the USA 5 years before the Petition for Naturalization, or “second papers” could be filed. After the formal proceedings by the court, when the immigrant signed the oath of allegiance, a Certificate of Naturalization was given to the immigrant as proof of citizenship. The Declaration and Petition remained on file at the court. Note: After 1952, a Declaration was no longer mandatory although some immigrants filed them.
What is a Certificate of Arrival?
In an act of Congress passed on June 29, 1906 which became effective September 27, 1906, documentation was required to be submitted by the immigrant at the time he/she filed a Petition, showing the name under which they arrived, the date of arrival, port of entry and the name of the vessel. This Certificate of Arrival for Naturalization Purpose was issued by the Department of Labor, Immigration Service and is attached to Petitions filed after this date.
Why are you only computerizing records from 1907 to 1924? Where are the earlier or later records and indexes?
The New York State Supreme Court in Kings County naturalized citizens from 1856 to 1924. A citywide index to naturalizations prior to 1907 has been preserved and is accessible through the (Mormon) Family History Centers. This microfilmed soundex index includes all courts in the New York City area from 1792 to 1906. The indexes to the remaining records in Brooklyn, 1907-1924, were in very poor condition and were accessible only at the County Clerk's Office in Brooklyn.
There were no naturalization in this court after 1924. For naturalizations from 1924 to 1991, check the records of the US District Court, Eastern District now located at NARA (National Archives), 201 Varick Street, New York, NY ZIP or other State/US District Courts. After 1991/1992, check with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (see #16 below).
What kind of information is included on the Declaration of Intention?
From 1907 onward, Declarations of Intention include: name, address, occupation, personal description, age, birth date, birth place, date/port of arrival, port of departure from which left for the USA, last foreign residence (usually city or Country), signature and date filed.
What information is included in the Petition for Naturalization?
The Petitions after 1906 included all the information required in the Declaration plus information on the applicant's spouse and children. This document also included the names, addresses and occupations of two witnesses provided by the applicant. Data included sometimes differs from and is sometimes more accurate than the data on the Declaration.
I have my grandfather's Certificate of Naturalization. Does this include all the above information?
No. But the Certificate does have the name of the court, and the Petition number which can speed your search for the Petition. In addition, the Certificate includes a personal description (age, color, complexion, color of eyes, hair, height, marital status), signature, address, and date naturalized. A photo was included beginning in 1929.
What data was required by law?
In 1795, Congress enacted a statue requiring a Declaration of Intention to be filed 3 years before admission as a citizen, residence of 5 years in the USA and residence of one year in the state naturalized. An oath of allegiance, good moral character, renunciation of any title of nobility and the forswearing of allegiance to the reigning foreign sovereign were required. Prior to 1906, local, State and federal courts each had their own procedures and required forms for Petitions. Most asked for little information that is of use to genealogists.
It was not until the law enacted on June 29, 1906 (effective September 27, 1906), that biographical data of the applicant and the applicant's spouse and children were required. The immigrant's Declaration of Intention and Certificate of Arrival were required to be attached to the Petition for Naturalization as a result of this law.
Who had to file?
Any alien resident over the age of 21 who wished to become a citizen of the USA, could file these papers. From 1790 to 1922, a wife became naturalized through her husband's filing. After September 22, 1922, a married woman had to be naturalized on her own. Children under the age of 21 became citizens automatically by naturalization of their parents.
If there is only a Declaration volume and page number listed, does this mean my relative never completed the naturalization process?
No. Declarations were portable. So, an immigrant could have filed his Declaration papers in Brooklyn and completed the process in another court in New York City, State or any where else in the country. It is of course possible that an immigrant did not complete the naturalization process and did not become a citizen. But do not make this assumption before checking further in this Court and others
I did not find my relative in the computerized list or the manual indexes at the Kings County Clerk's Office. Where else should I look-- I know this relative was naturalized?
During part of the 1907-1924 period, there were 8 courts in New York City where an immigrant could file for Naturalization. The records of the three federal courts -- US District Court, Southern District of New York; US District Court, Eastern District of New York and US Circuit Court, Southern District of New York, can all be found at the National Archives-Northeast Region (NARA), 201 Varick Street (corner Houston), 12th Floor, New York, NY. The records of the State Supreme Courts in the 5 boroughs that constitute NYC, can be found in the respective County Clerk's Office for that borough. For address of these 5 courts, click on the JGS’ resource book, Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area, for complete addresses.
Can I request the County Clerk's Office to conduct a search of the remaining indexes for me?
Yes. However, there is an addition $10 search fee if the volume/page numbers are not provided. To assist the clerk, include a range of years in which you believe the naturalization took place.
How can I find out more about the naturalization process and applicable federal laws?
The Immigration and Naturalization Service has now become the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a division of the Department of Homeland Security. Historical information and an online searchable index of Naturalization Records is available through the National Archives in Washington, DC.
What is meant by the following terms in the "comments" column?
"void" = The record is only partially completed and was "voided" by the clerk. In most cases, the upper portion of the first page (which included all the genealogical information) was completed, but the witnesses section and signature lines are blank.
"canceled" = the immigrant became a citizen but at a later time, citizenship was revoked. A letter of explanation, or the word "canceled" is written across the record.
"denied" = About 25% of the petitions filed in this court were denied. In most cases, we did not note this in the index. Researchers will find this information on the back page of the Petition. (Stamped "granted" or "denied.")
Frequently used abbreviations include:
"aka"=also known as
"arr" = arrived as
"c.o.a."= certificate of arrival
"pet" = petition
"w.n.c."= wants name changed
Is the alternate name that I found in the comments column "arrived as Kleinberg" the original name of my grandfather Joseph Cohen?
Maybe, and maybe not. This is for you to determine. We began to enter alternate name information from the declaration and certificates of arrival (c.o.a. or "arrived as") when we realized these sometimes differed substantially from the name on the petition. (We did not enter minor spelling variations unless the clerk included these in the handwritten index.) These alternate names may indeed be the original name. They may also assist researcher in finding those missing passenger records.
However, the c.o.a. was not always noted by the clerk on the petition. Where they were seen by the clerk, i.e., noted, we generally used the term "landed as." Even those noted by the clerk may not have been the individual's name. In less than 10 cases, the clerk added a note that the applicant "said this is not his name." In one case, the clerk added "name belongs to man who bought the ticket."
Sometimes the clerk noted that the c.o.a. was that of the mother or father. Most often, there was no explanation. Please don't ask the JGS (NY). You will have to examine the Petition yourself and reach your own conclusion.
Here are some reasons for alternate names on the passenger record:
- It was indeed the individual's original birth name (sometimes his/her mother's maiden name).
- It was costly to purchase a certificate of arrival. Maybe a friend or family member had one that was never used....
- It was the name as misspelled by the ship's clerk.
- It was the name misread or misspelled from the passenger record by the clerk completing the certificate of arrival.
- It was the certificate of arrival of someone else who filed a petition, and the c.o.a. was pasted to the wrong page. (We checked the name of the ship and date of arrival before adding to the database. Many of these types of errors were found. Did we find the all? Maybe not.)
- It was the maiden name of a woman who was naturalized after she married.
- The declaration was filed by the husband who died prior to filing a petition. His wife filed the petition using his declaration but her own certificate of arrival.
- You may find other explanations. We realize this information could be misleading but feel you would be the better judge of its usefulness.
What if only the first name was different on arrival. Did you include these also?
Alternate first names (particularly Hebrew first names) are included in the "first name" column by a "/." For example, Jacob Cohen who arrived as Yankel Cohen would be included in the database as "Cohen, Jacob/Yankel." No footnote is added in the comments column. Many Jewish immigrants arrived using their Hebrew first names.
Why are dates of birth included for some people but not others?
If we found two people in the same volume with the same name, we checked to make sure it was not our error. We used date of birth as our check and left it in so that you too may be able to identify the correct record.
What does the footnote "Dec Volume 85 missing" or "Pet Volume 31 missing"?
Sadly, its true. At least two volumes are missing. During the 3 years we worked on this project, we searched for these volumes to no avail. Perhaps someday they will turn up. Happily, at least 221 of the immigrants whose Declaration records were included in volume 85 also filed petitions in Brooklyn and these declarations are available as part of the Petition record. We can only hope that some of the remaining 279 immigrants filed their petitions elsewhere. All but 6 of the 500 records in declaration volume 85 have been identified by name and are included in the database.
Of the 247 petitions in volume 31, we were able to identify the names of all but one. Of these 247, 67 filed declarations in Brooklyn between 1907 and 1924. So, researchers will still be able to learn their date and place of birth and date/ship of arrival if these were completed fully by the applicant. In addition, we were able to locate the certificate stubs of 193 of the 247 petitioners. These stubs include the name of the court and date in which the declaration was filed (click here), as well as the age of the petitioner and the names of his spouse and children (if any) and their ages. Pat Cody, Naturalization Clerk, can help you locate these certificate stubs. That leaves only 41 petitioners for whom we have found no other information. These may have been petitions that were denied, or that were granted (approved) by the court at a later time.
Are you absolutely sure that everything in the database is correct?
We proofed every page. Are we sure its perfect? No. We did our best.