Illinois Naturalization and Citizenship
Naturalization records have been filed in the U.S. district and circuit courts, circuit courts, and in local (usually county) courts in Illinois. 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.Other libraries (WorldCat)FHL 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. Learn how to explore the Family History Library Catalog.
For a description of the judicial districts in Illinois, the counties they included, and the location of the court seat see:
- Crossley, Frederick B. Courts and Lawyers of Illinois. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1916. Other Libraries (WorldCat) FHL Film 934965 Book 977.3 D3c,pages 384–85.
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. For a complete listing of all counties covered in this index see the wiki pageIllinois Northern District Naturalization Index Cards. This wiki page describes the record, explains record content and advises on best ways to use the record.
This index to naturalizations covers 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. Copies of this index are as follows:
- Illinois, Northern District Naturalization Index, 1840-1950 at FamilySearch–Free; Online version with browsable images. Browse by Soundex number of surname.
- 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).)
- 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. FHL film 1432001 (first of 183).
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.
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. These court records (1819–1982) are available at the Chicago Branch of the National Archives. 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. See Illinois-Naturalizationin the Family History Library Catalog. For records not found in the Family History Library collection, contact the National Archives, Chicago Branch.
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. Explore how to searchIRAD. The Family History Library also has microfilmed copies of the records from many Illinois counties. Do a "Place" search in the FHL catalog for your locality. Then search for naturalization records. Explore how to search the FHLC. In addition, some county naturalization records are abstracted and printed in genealogical journals. Many of these printed abstracts are indexed in PERSI (explore how to search PERSI).
It is important to understand that naturalization records can be found on any level—state, county and local. Links to county pages appear below. County pages may list availability and links to records. Additional resources for Illinois Naturalization may be found in the Illinois-Naturalizationtopic page of the Family History Library catalog (FHLC). Copies of records on FHL microfilm and microfiche can be ordered for viewing at Family History Centers. Also find Illinois Naturalization resources available at Other libraries (WorldCat). Explore how to search WorldCat and the FHLC.