Virginia Naturalization Petitions (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Virginia Naturalization Petitions, 1906-1929
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Virginia, United States
United States flag.png
Flag of the United States of America
Flag of the United States (1896-1908).png
US Flag 1896-1908 (45 stars)
NARA seal300.jpg
Seal of the National Archives
Record Description
Record Type Naturalization Petitions
Record Group RG 21: Records of District Courts of the United States
Collection years 1906-1929
Microfilm Publication M1645. Naturalization Petitions of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia (Abington), 1914-1929. 2 rolls.
  M1646. Naturalization Petitions of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia (Charlottesville), 1910-1929. 2 rolls.
  M1647. Naturalization Petitions of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond), 1906-1929. 10 rolls.
  M1648. Naturalization Petitions of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria), 1909-1920. 5 rolls.
National Archives Identifier 350
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


What is in This Collection?

Images of declarations and petitions filed in four U.S. District Courts in Virginia and corresponding to four record series at the National Archives:

U.S. Circuit Court:

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. Counties recorded naturalization procedures in the court records as legal proof of citizenship.


To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Virginia Naturalization Petitions, 1906-1929.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The following information may be found in these records:

Petition

  • Name of the petitioner
  • Residence
  • Country of birth
  • Place and date of arrival
  • Names of two witnesses
  • Petition number
  • Date of petition
  • Volume and page number of the petition

Declaration of Intent and Naturalization Petitions

  • Date of Declaration of Intent of Naturalization
  • Name and age of immigrant
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • Name of spouse, including maiden name of wife
  • Physical description
  • Date and place of birth
  • Spouse's date and place of birth
  • Current residence
  • Last foreign residence
  • Name of place and country from which emigrated
  • Date of embarkation and port of departure
  • Date of arrival and port of entry
  • Names of witnesses
  • Signature of judge or court official

Collection Content

Sample Image

Coverage Map

To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of naturalizations, click here.

How Do I Search This Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • The full name of your ancestor
  • The approximate immigration and naturalization dates
  • The ancestor’s residence

If you do not know this information, check the 1900 or 1910 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.

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select Court
  2. Select Record Description to view the images

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. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

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

  • Use naturalization records to:
  • Learn an immigrant’s place of origin
  • Confirm their date of arrival
  • Learn foreign and “Americanized” names
  • Find records in his or her country of origin such as emigrations, port records, or 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
  • If your ancestor had a common name, be sure to look at all the entries for a name before you decide which is correct
  • Continue to search the naturalization records to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who may have naturalized in the same area or nearby
  • The witnesses named on naturalization records may have been older relatives of the person in the naturalization process. Search for their naturalizations
  • You may want to obtain the naturalization records of every person who shares your ancestor’s surname if they lived in the same county or nearby. You may not know how or if they are related, but the information could lead you to more information about your own ancestors

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

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities

Record Finder

Consult the Virginia Research Tips and Strategies and its Record Finder to search other records

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
"Virginia Naturalization Petitions, 1906-1929." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1645, M1646, M1647, and M1648. Pennsylvania: National Archives and Records Administration, Philadelphia Branch, n.d.
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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