Thursday, June 2, 2016

Naturalization Records

An immigrant becomes a citizen by successfully completing the process called naturalization.  Naturalization records can show not only when an alien person acquired legal citizenship, but sometimes other interesting information as well, such as the birthplace and occupation.  The names of the documents and the amount of information vary from time to time and among different counties.  During much of American history, naturalization records were filed at many different kinds of courts, including federal, common pleas and probate.  A researcher therefore might need to search multiple archives for the records of one person.

Final naturalization record of Solomon Tyhurst from England, 1821, in the Common Pleas Journal
Typically, the initial step in the naturalization process was when an alien filed a declaration of intention.  This legally indicated that he or she intended to go through the process of becoming a citizen.  Later, after the alien had successfully completed the additional requirements of the naturalization process, the court created a final record, and the new citizen received a certificate.  Occasionally, additional records are available in an archive, such as the affidavits of persons who testified about the character of the alien, and the petitions of aliens who applied for the final record.

Final naturalization record of John Richardson from England, 1881
Naturalization records in Licking County have survived from 1813 onwards, with some gaps.  Those which are earlier than 1875 are normally entries in general court journals, such as the Common Pleas Journal.  From 1875 to 1892, records in separate naturalization volumes show the name of the alien, name of the character reference, date of the declaration of intention, and foreign country and sovereign to which the alien owed allegiance.  Records from 1906 onwards also indicate the occupation and physical characteristics of the alien, birthplace and birthdate, current and foreign residences, place of embarkation, vessel traveled upon, port and date of arrival, and sometimes data of other family members.  From 1907, information about spouses and children is regularly included.  From 1918, information about race and nationality is included, as well as occasional photographs of the alien.
Declaration of Intention of Mike Oreovac from Yugoslavia, 1940
Some Licking County naturalization records are held in our department, while others are located in the basement of the Domestic Relations Court building.  Call us for more information, at 740-670-5121.