Pennsylvania Naturalization and Citizenship

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British immigrants to Pennsylvania were already citizens because Pennsylvania was a British colony. Others gave an oath of allegiance soon after arrival. For early lists of those taking oaths, see Strassburger and Hinke, Pennsylvania German Pioneers, in the "Emigration and Immigration" article.

For early naturalization records, see:

  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Naturalization Lists, 1740-1773. FHL film 1032845 items 5-7. These records are also found in Pennsylvania Archives series 2, vol. 2; many names in these lists are not found in Pennsylvania German Pioneers.
  • Giuseppi, M. S., ed. Naturalizations of Foreign Protestants in the American And West Indian Colonies (Pursuant to Statute 13 George II, c. 7). (Originally published as Publications of the Huguenot Society of London, volume XXIV, London, 1921.) Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1969. (Family History Library book FHL book 973 P4gm 1969; FHL film 908978 item 1 This book has an every name index.

The General Assembly of Pennsylvania required oaths of allegiance during and shortly after the Revolutionary War period. The library has lists for some counties. For sets of lists, see:

  • Names of Persons Who Took the Oath of Allegiance to the State of Pennsylvania Between the Years 1776 and 1794, Pennsylvania, PA Archives. Second series, v. 3. p. 1-86. FHL book 974.8 A39p, series 2 v. 3 and FHL film 823994 item 1.
  • Westcott, Thompson. Names of Persons Who Took the Oath of Allegiance to the State of Pennsylvania Between the Years 1777 and 1789: With a History of the "Test Laws" of Pennsylvania, 1865. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1965. FHL book 974.8 P4w and FHL film 1033632 item 7.

Later immigrants filed for naturalization in a variety of city, county, state, or federal courts, but most often in a county court. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of many of these records. From Philadelphia County, for example, the library has:

  • Pennsylvania. Court of Quarter Sessions (Philadelphia County). Declarations of Intentions, 1810-1932; Index, 1810-1887. FHL film 964555 (first of 52.
  • Pennsylvania. Court of Quarter Sessions (Philadelphia County). Petitions for Naturalization 1800-1929; Indexes 1802-1930. FHL film 969029 (first of 185 films.
  • Pennsylvania. Court of Common Pleas (Philadelphia County). Declarations of Intention, 1821-1911. FHL film 964580 (first of 38 films).
  • Pennsylvania. Court of Common Pleas (Philadelphia County). Petitions for Naturalization 1793-1906; Indexes 1793-1930. (On 176 Family History Library films beginning with FHL film 976526 (first of 176 films.
  • United States. Circuit Court (Pennsylvania: Eastern District). Naturalization Petitions and Records, 1795-1911.FHL film 1749854 item 1-2 (first of 53 films)
  • United States. District Court (Pennsylvania: Eastern District). The library has naturalization records for about two-thirds of Pennsylvania's counties.

Useful indexes to Philadelphia records are:

  • Filby, P. William, and Mary K. Meyer. Philadelphia Naturalization Records, an Index to Records of Aliens' Declarations of Intentions and/or Oaths of Allegiance, 1789-1880 . . . (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1982); FHL book 974.811 P4p.

For a discussion of this index, see this magazine. Later issues list names missed in the index:

  • Jefferson M. Moak, The WPA Index of Naturalizations: An Explanation Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine 36 (1989): 109-16.
  • Naturalization Index for Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, 1881-1930 (Family History Library films FHL films 1752877-92. This indexes petitions from the court of quarter sessions and court of common pleas for Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.
  • Indexes for the circuit and district courts are in United States, District Court (Pennsylvania: Eastern District), Indexes to Naturalization Petitions to the U.S. Circuit and District Courts for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1795-1951 FHL films 1412417-76.

Alien Report and Registry

From 1798 to 1828 an "Alien Report and Registry" was required of all aliens. Each alien was to gave details on when and where they arrived, and sometimes names of family members. The Alien report was a Federal requirement and the records do not always survive. If the report survived, it is included as a loose paper with the Declaration of Intention or in the court minutes.  The National Archives has a digital collection online of Landing Reports of Aliens, 1798 - 1828 for the Eastern District of Court of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia area).

Before 1906 and after 1790 when Congress passed the first uniform naturalization law, the court of common pleas and the court of quarter sessions had jurisdiction over the naturalization of aliens. At the Family History Library, county records of naturalization are listed under the court of common pleas.

The Comprehensive Naturalization Law of 1906 provided for nationwide uniformity of processes and records. Jurisdiction over naturalization was provided by the U.S. District Courts, the Supreme Court, and all courts of record having a seal, a clerk, and jurisdiction in actions at law and equity in which the amount in controversy is unlimited.

Post 1906 Records

For naturalization records after September 1906, contact the National Archives—Philadelphia Branch or use the Genealogy Program at


Pennsylvania Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2006.

NOTE: All of the information from the original research outline has been imported into this Wiki site and is being updated as time permits.