Pennsylvania Eastern District Petitions for Naturalization (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Pennsylvania, Eastern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1795-1931 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Pennsylvania, United States
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Record Description
Record Type Naturalization Petitions
Record Group RG 21: Records of the District Courts of the United States
Collection years 1795-1931
Microfilm Publication M1522. Naturalization Petitions for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania,1795-1930. 369 rolls.
National Archives Identifier 350
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


What is in This Collection?

The records consist of naturalization petitions for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern district of Pennsylvania for the years 1795 to 1931. The records corresponds to NARA publication M1522 part of Record Group 21 Records of District Courts of the United States.

Naturalization is a voluntary process by which immigrants can become American citizens and receive the rights granted with citizenship. Before 1790, British immigrants were automatically considered citizens. Some Protestant immigrants from other counties swore allegiance and requested citizenship from civil authorities. The process by which foreign immigrants could become citizens of the British empire colony, and later American citizens, was handled by the individual states until 1906, when the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization standardized immigration laws and procedures. The general requirements for citizenship include residency in one U.S. state for one year and in the United States for five years.

Naturalization papers are an important source of information about an immigrant's nation of origin, his foreign and “Americanized” names, residence, and date of arrival. Naturalization records were created to process naturalizations and keep track of immigrants in the United States. Immigrants could naturalize in any court that performed naturalizations. That included city, county, state and federal courts. Begin by looking for naturalization records in the courts of the county or city where the immigrant lived. Look first for the petition (second papers), because they are usually easier to find in courts near where the immigant eventually settled. After 1906, the declaration can be filed with the petition as the immigrant was required to submit a copy when he submitted the petition. Because immigrants were allowed to naturalize in any court, they often selected the most convenient court. If they lived in the Eastern District but worked elsewhere, they may have gone to a court closer to work.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Pennsylvania, Eastern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1795-1931.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Before 1906, the information recorded on naturalization records differed widely and often didn't mention the immigrant's town of origin or parents' names. These records may contain:

  • Arrival date and port of entry
  • Name and age of immigrant
  • Age of immigrant
  • Current residence of immigrant
  • Country of origin or allegiance

In 1906, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization was created and later renamed Immigration and Naturalization Services or INS. Some results included standardized forms throughout the country and copies of naturalization papers sent to the INS in addition to the court keeping a copy.

Naturalization records after 1906 contain more detailed information about the immigrants and their families. Possible information given in post-1906 naturalization records include:

  • Name of declarant
  • Date of Declaration of Intent
  • Age and occupation of declarant
  • Physical description of declarant
  • Declarant's date and place of birth
  • Declarant's marital status
  • Spouse's name
  • Spouse's date and place of birth
  • Names of children
  • Children's dates and places of birth
  • Date of arrival and port of entry
  • Name of ship
  • Departure date and port of departure
  • Current U. S. residence
  • Last foreign address

Collection Content

Sample Image

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
  • At least one other piece of information

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Page.

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

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.

  1. Select Item description

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?

Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.


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

  • Use the information to find other records such as emigrations, port records, ship’s manifests, birth, christening, census, and land records.
  • Learn foreign and “Americanized” names
  • Use the information to find additional family members.
  • 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 to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations 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.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images.
  • 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 Pennsylvania, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the Pennsylvania Archives and Libraries.
  • 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
"Pennsylvania, Eastern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1795-1931." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 10 March 2017. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1522. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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