Naturalization records pertain to citizenship. They represent an immigrant’s change in allegiance from their country of previous residence to the United States government. For the most part, naturalization records held by Special Collections and Archives consist of Declarations of Intention (sometimes called “first papers”) and Petitions for Naturalization (aka “second papers” or the final Record of Naturalization).
Naturalization records in Ohio are found in the Clerk of Court or Probate Court records in the county where the naturalization request was filed. Special Collections and Archives has the naturalization records and indexes for all the counties in its eleven-county area as part of our local government records. The naturalization records begin when the county was formed and end in 1906. After 1906, naturalization records became federal-level records and are held at the regional Federal District Courts of Ohio. (In some cases, we have post-1906 naturalization records as well.)
Naturalization records prior to 1906 contain minimal information about the person’s immigration journey to the United States. Generally, the records contain the country of origin, the date of application, and, in some cases, the names of witnesses. These early records do not contain information about the ship the person arrived on, the date or place of arrival in the United States, or the names of family members who may have accompanied the person.
The above two documents were filed separately in Montgomery County, Ohio, Probate Court, as part of William Collins’ path to citizenship. The document on the left is his Declaration of Intention (or “first papers”), filed in 1867, stating his intention to become a citizen of the United States. The document on the right is his Petition for Naturalization or Petition for Citizenship (“second papers”), filed in 1869, stating that he has now met the requirements and granting that citizenship.
Researchers should also understand that family members of the applicant (wife and underage children) automatically became United State citizens when the husband/father became a United States citizen but are not necessarily listed in the record. (NARA’s Naturalization Records page has a wealth of additional information and specifics on naturalization and citizenship rules.)
Later naturalization records often do include information such as names of other family members and the date and vessel of arrival.
The above is a single-page, front-and-back Petition for Naturalization for Charley Caserta, filed in Darke County, Ohio, in 1910. This record includes the date and place of arrival, as well as the ship name, in addition to various other facts.
The images below comprise the Petition for Naturalization of Josephine Astorino, filed in Champaign County, Ohio, in 1911. In this case, we had copies of the full naturalization file with its supporting documents. Among these documents are the names of Josephine’s spouse, children, parents, as well as her own maiden name; date, place, and vessel of arrival; and a variety of other useful facts. Click to view a larger version of each image:
Now are you wondering what your ancestors’ naturalization records have in store?
We have created an electronic master name index of all naturalization records (all counties) that we can provide access to. The Naturalization Index is searchable on our web site. To begin your research, please enter a last name in the search box or use one of our browse options to find the record you want within the naturalization indexes.
If you would like to request a copy of a naturalization record that you found in the indexes, please send us the citation via your preferred method of contact: review our research request page for information on submitting your request. In most cases, we can email you a copy of the record at no charge.