Pennsylvania Naturalization and Citizenship

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Online Resources[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

British immigrants to Pennsylvania were already citizens because Pennsylvania was a British colony. Others gave an oath of allegiance soon after arrival. For early lists of those taking oaths, see Strassburger and Hinke, Pennsylvania German Pioneers, in the "Emigration and Immigration" article.

Various types of records were created during the naturalization process, including declarations of intention, petitions for naturalization, oaths of allegiance, and certificates of naturalization and citizenship. Each record can give details about a person, such as age, residence, country or city of origin, ethnic background, the date and port of arrival, the name of the ship, names of spouse and children with their birth dates and places, or current address.

Records for earlier years usually contain less information than those after 1906, when the federal court system for naturalization was revised and details such as birth date and place, physical description, and marital status may be given. See United States Naturalization and Citizenship for a more complete discussion of the naturalization process and the records created.

Pre 1906 Records[edit | edit source]

For early naturalization records, see:

  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Naturalization Lists, 1740-1773. FHL film 1032845 items 5-7. These records are also found in Pennsylvania Archives series 2, vol. 2; many names in these lists are not found in Pennsylvania German Pioneers.
  • Giuseppi, M. S., ed. Naturalizations of Foreign Protestants in the American And West Indian Colonies (Pursuant to Statute 13 George II, c. 7). (Originally published as Publications of the Huguenot Society of London, volume XXIV, London, 1921.) Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1969. FHL book 973 P4gm 1969; FHL film 908978 item 1. This book has an every name index. Online at Ancestry ($); At various libraries (WorldCat).

The General Assembly of Pennsylvania required oaths of allegiance during and shortly after the Revolutionary War period. The library has lists for some counties. For sets of lists, see:

Later immigrants filed for naturalization in a variety of city, county, state, or federal courts, but most often in a county court. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of many of these records. From Philadelphia County, for example, the library has:

  • Pennsylvania. Court of Quarter Sessions (Philadelphia County). Declarations of Intentions, 1810-1932; Index, 1810-1887. FHL film 964555 (first of 52).
  • Pennsylvania. Court of Quarter Sessions (Philadelphia County). Petitions for Naturalization 1800-1929; Indexes 1802-1930. FHL film 969029 (first of 185 films).
  • Pennsylvania. Court of Common Pleas (Philadelphia County). Declarations of Intention, 1821-1911. FHL film 964580 (first of 38 films).
  • Pennsylvania. Court of Common Pleas (Philadelphia County). Petitions for Naturalization 1793-1906; Indexes 1793-1930. (On 176 Family History Library films beginning with FHL film 976526 (first of 176 films).
  • United States. Circuit Court (Pennsylvania: Eastern District). Naturalization Petitions and Records, 1795-1911.FHL film 1749854 item 1-2 (first of 53 films).
  • United States. District Court (Pennsylvania: Eastern District). The library has naturalization records for about two-thirds of Pennsylvania's counties.

Useful indexes to Philadelphia records are:

  • Filby, P. William, and Mary K. Meyer. Philadelphia Naturalization Records, an Index to Records of Aliens' Declarations of Intentions and/or Oaths of Allegiance, 1789-1880 . . . (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1982); FHL book 974.811 P4p.

For a discussion of this index, see this magazine. Later issues list names missed in the index:

  • Jefferson M. Moak, The WPA Index of Naturalizations: An Explanation Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine 36 (1989): 109-16.
  • Naturalization Index for Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, 1881-1930 (Family History Library films FHL films 1752877-92. This indexes petitions from the court of quarter sessions and court of common pleas for Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.
  • Indexes for the circuit and district courts are in United States, District Court (Pennsylvania: Eastern District), Indexes to Naturalization Petitions to the U.S. Circuit and District Courts for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1795-1951 FHL films 1412417-76.

Alien Report and Registry

From 1798 to 1828 an "Alien Report and Registry" was required of all aliens. Each alien was to give details on when and where they arrived, and sometimes names of family members. The Alien report was a Federal requirement and the records do not always survive. If the report survived, it is included as a loose paper with the Declaration of Intention or in the court minutes.  The National Archives has a digital collection online of Landing Reports of Aliens, 1798-1828 for the Eastern District of Court of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia area).

Before 1906 and after 1790 when Congress passed the first uniform naturalization law, the court of common pleas and the court of quarter sessions had jurisdiction over the naturalization of aliens. At the Family History Library, county records of naturalization are listed under the court of common pleas.

The Comprehensive Naturalization Law of 1906 provided for nationwide uniformity of processes and records. Jurisdiction over naturalization was provided by the U.S. District Courts, the Supreme Court, and all courts of record having a seal, a clerk, and jurisdiction in actions at law and equity in which the amount in controversy is unlimited.

Post 1906 Records[edit | edit source]

In 1906 the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now United States Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS]) was created, forms were standardized, and duplicate records were created by the court and sent to the USCIS. Some of these records may be indexed, and filmed (see the availability section below) but most must be accessed by using the Genealogy Program at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. For more information see the  United States Naturalization wiki page.

Many post-1906 naturalization records and indexes for Pennsylvania are being put online:

Eastern District Court - includes Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties:

Middle District Court - includes Adams, Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, centre, Clinton, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lebanon,Luzerne, Lycoming, Mifflin, Monroe, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne, Wyoming, and York Counties:

Western District Court - includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Somerset, Venango, Warren, Washington and Westmoreland Counties:

Naturalization Process[edit | edit source]

The first naturalization law in the United States occurred in 1795.  Laws changed many times over the years but the basic process was:

1st Step: Declaring the intent to naturalize
2nd Step: After 2 to 3 years after the declaration, submitting a petition to become a citizen.  A total of 5 years was required in the United States.
3rd Step: After the petition was accepted the applicant became a citizen.

See United States Naturalization for more details about the naturalization process in the United States.

References[edit | edit source]

Pennsylvania Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2006.

NOTE: All of the information from the original research outline has been imported into this Wiki site and is being updated as time permits.

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

Pennsylvania Eastern District Naturalization Indexes - FamilySearch Historical Records