Maryland Naturalization Indexes (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Maryland Naturalization Indexes, 1797-1951 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Maryland, United States
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Record Description
Record Type Naturalization Indexes
Record Group RG 21: Records of District Courts of the United States
Collection years 1797-1951
Microfilm Publication M1168. Indexes to Naturalization Petitions to the U.S. Circuit and District Courts for Maryland, 1797-1951. 25 rolls.
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


What is in This Collection?

The collection consists of six separate alphabetic indexes to naturalization petitions filed in the U.S. Circuit and District courts of Maryland from 1797 to 1951. Each index comprises a specific time period.

  • Rolls 1 -18, 1797-1906
  • Roll 18, Oct 1906-Apr 1915, Apr 1915-Apr 1920, Apr 1920-Oct 1925
  • Rolls 18-24, Nov 1925-Dec 1951
  • Rolls 24-25, An index to aliens who joined the U.S. military between May 1918 and Apr 1923.

The collection corresponds to NARA M1168. Index courtesy of Fold3 (previously Footnote.com).

The actual naturalization volumes vary in size and format. Prior to 1906 each document was usually handwritten on one page. From the late 1800s and on, printed forms were used. After 1906, many entries were typewritten. While there were various types of naturalization records, the Declaration of Intent and Naturalization Petition usually had the most complete genealogical information. The first naturalization act was passed in 1802. Immigrants to the United States were not required to apply for citizenship. Of those who did apply, many did not complete the requirements for citizenship.

Naturalization to become a U.S. citizen was a two-part process: the Declaration of Intent to Naturalize, or First Papers, and the Naturalization Record (including the Naturalization Petition), or Final Papers. The First Papers were normally filed five years before the Final Papers because of the five-year residency requirement to become a citizen. No centralized files existed before 1906. In 1906 federal forms replaced the various formats that had been used by the various courts. Copies were sent to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), creating a central file for naturalization papers. The INS is now known as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Naturalization records are generally well preserved, but some records may have been lost to fire or other disasters.

Naturalization is the process of granting citizenship privileges and responsibilities to foreign-born residents. New York’s counties recorded naturalization procedures in the court records as legal proof of citizenship. The courts handling naturalizations changed several times so the card index was created as a way to quickly access specific records.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The cards include:

  • Petition number
  • Date of petition
  • Volume and page number of the petition

Some of the cards also show:

  • Declaration number
  • Date of declaration
  • Volume and page number of the declaration
  • Certification number
  • Date of issuance

Declaration of Intent and Naturalization Petitions usually included the following:

  • Name of the immigrant
  • Country of birth
  • Arrival date
  • Date of Declaration of Intent or Naturalization
  • Names of witnesses
  • Signature of judge or court official

In post-1906 records, you may also find:

  • Birth date
  • Birthplace
  • Age
  • Race
  • Last foreign residence
  • Current residence
  • Arrival place
  • Marital status
  • Name of spouse
  • Maiden name of wife
  • Birth date of spouse
  • Residence of spouse

How Do I Search This Collection?

You can search the index or view the images or both. To begin your search, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate date and place of naturalization

If you do not know this information, check the 1900 census and then calculate the possible year of naturalization based on the date of immigration. The 1920 census may tell you the exact year of immigration or naturalization.

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.

  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.


What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the information to find other records such as emigrations, port records, and ship’s manifests.
  • Look for the Declaration of Intent soon after the immigrant arrived, and then look for the Naturalization Petition five years later, when the residency requirement would have been met. Look for naturalization records in federal courts and then in state, county, or city courts. An individual may have filed the first and final papers in different courts and sometimes in a different state if the person moved. Immigrants who were younger than 18 when they arrived did not need to file a Declaration of Intent as part of the process.
  • Learn foreign and “Americanized” names
  • Learn the place of origin and find church and vital records such as birth, baptism, marriage, and death records. Also search for military, land and probate records.
  • Use the information to find additional family members in censuses.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • Try viewing the original record. Indexes and transcriptions may not include all the data found in the original records. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relatives that can be verified by records.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Try variant spellings of your ancestor’s name.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of Maryland, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the FamilySearch Library Catalog

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation

"Maryland Naturalization Indexes, 1797-1951." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. From "Indexes to Naturalization Petitions to the U.S. Circuit and District Courts for Maryland, 1797-1951." Database. Fold3.com. http://www.fold3.com : n.d. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1168. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982.

Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.

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