The value of applications for citizenship in the U.S.
Applications for U.S. citizenship are one of the best sources of ancestral information for both immigrant-alien and native-born Americans.
Naturalization is the process of granting citizenship privileges and responsibilities to foreign-born residents (and a few born in America). Immigrants to the United States have never been required to apply for citizenship.
The process required several steps and many types of documents in a long paper trail that may have lasted years or decades. The process standardized after 1906. The historical documents were not created for genealogists, and their use is complex.
= Declarations of intention, petitions for naturalization, and related records can provide invaluable information about specific places of origin which may not be found in other sources. They also contain genealogical and biographical information about an ancestor, birth and marriage data, and the family’s arrival in America.
= The available U.S. naturalizations records are in about 5,300 local, state, and federal archives which serviced millions of –whether or not they finished the process.
= The most-available naturalization documents generally date from 1795 to 1930. Each of the regional branches of the National Archives has unique sets of these records. The most extensive collections, with some indexes up to about 1990, are available thru the Family History Library. Only a fraction of these federal, state, and county naturalization documents are on the Internet.