Illinois Naturalization and Citizenship
Naturalization records have been filed in the U.S. district and circuit courts and in local courts in Illinois counties. Each court had its own style of record keeping before 1906.
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.
For a comprehensive list of Illinois naturalization records, see:
- Schaefer, Christina K. Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1997. (Family History Library book 973 P4s.) Pages 89–104 cover Illinois. For each county, this book lists the courts where naturalization took place, the years the records cover, where the original records are housed, and the first film numbers of the Family History Library, where applicable. It also lists the National Archives record group (RG) number. The introduction discusses the naturalization process, the types of records created, and the usual genealogical content of each record. Be aware that the Family History Library has acquired naturalization records since the printing of this guide, so check the Family History Library catalog for your locality.
Card Index, 1840–1950
The National Archives Great Lakes Region (Chicago) has a card index of 1,000,000 names of people recorded in many courts of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) District 9, which comprised the northern third of Illinois, northwestern Indiana, southern and eastern Wisconsin, and eastern Iowa. This record indexes both civil and military petitions for the U.S. District and circuit courts for the Northern District, Eastern Division of Illinois, the circuit, county, criminal and superior courts of Cook County, Illinois, and the county and municipal courts. A microfilm copy of this index is:
- United States. District Court (Illinois: Northern District). Soundex Index to Naturalization Petitions for U.S. District & Circuit Court, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840–1950. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1988. (On 183 Family History Library films beginning with 1432001). Partial digital version at Ancestry (free section) (Described as "Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa" in U.S. Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791-1992 (Indexed in World Archives Project).)
For a description of the judicial districts in Illinois, the counties they included, and the location of the court seat, see pages 384–85 of Frederick B. Crossley’s Courts and Lawyers.
In 1906 the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) was created, forms were standardized, and duplicate records were created by the court and sent to the INS. To access these records, use the Genealogy Program at www.uscis.gov.
Records of the district and circuit courts in the Northern District were kept concurrently until the U.S. Circuit Court was abolished in 1911. Both courts should be checked for naturalization records.
The Family History Library has records of the U.S. Circuit Court for the Northern and Southern Districts, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern, Northern, and Southern Districts.
If a person lived in or near Chicago or other cities where the U.S. courts convened, naturalization records may be found in the U.S. district or circuit courts. For the rural areas of Illinois, naturalizations were more likely recorded by the circuit court clerk in each county. IRAD (Illinois Regional Archives Depository) depositories have naturalization records for circuit, county, and municipal courts from many counties. The Family History Library also has microfilmed copies of the records from many Illinois counties.
Naturalization records can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search under:
ILLINOIS- NATURALIZATION AND CITIZENSHIP
ILLINOIS, [COUNTY]- NATURALIZATION AND CITIZENSHIP