Virginia Naturalization Petitions (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.|
- 1 Collection Time Period
- 2 Record Description
- 3 How to Use the Record
- 4 Record History
- 5 Related Web Sites
- 6 Related Wiki Articles
- 7 Contributions to This Article
- 8 Sources of Information for This Collection
- 9 Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
Collection Time Period
These records cover the years from 1906 to 1929.
This collection is an index to naturalization proceedings filed in four U.S. District Courts in Virginia and corresponding to four record series at the National Archives:
- Naturalization Petitions of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia (Abingdon), 1914-1929 (NARA M1645)
- Naturalization Petitions of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia (Charlottesville), 1910-1929 (NARA M1646)
- Naturalization Petitions of the U.S. District and Circuit Courts for the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond), 1906-1929 (NARA M1647)
- Naturalization Petitions of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria), 1909-1920 (NARA M1648).
The naturalization volumes are typed on printed forms. While there were various types of naturalization records, the Declaration of Intent and Naturalization Petition usually had the most complete genealogical information.
The information given for each petition includes the following:
- Name of the petitioner
- 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 usually included the following:
- Name of the immigrant
- Country of birth
- Arrival date
- Date of Declaration of Intent or Naturalization
- Names of witnesses
- Signature of judge or court official
- Birth date
- Last foreign residence
- Current residence
- Arrival place
- Marital status
- Name of spouse
- Maiden name of wife
- Birth date of spouse
- Residence of spouse
How to Use the Record
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Check the index for the surname and then the given name. You may need to look at many cards to find the one you are seeking. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
When searching the index 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.
Use the locator information found in the index (such as name of court, page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:
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.
You may also find these tips helpful:
- 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.
If you do not find the name you are looking for, try the following:
- Check for variant spellings. Realize that the indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings and misinterpretations.
- Try a different index if there is one for the years needed. You may also need to search the naturalization records year by year.
- Search the indexes of nearby counties.
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.
Why this Record Was Created
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.
The index is very accurate and the information that was current at the time of naturalization was usually reliable. However, there was always a chance for misinformation. Errors may have occurred because of the informant’s lack of knowledge or because of transcription errors or other circumstances.
Related Web Sites
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Related Wiki Articles
Contributions to This Article
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Sources of Information for This Collection
“Virginia Naturalization Petitions, 1906-1929,” database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/); from United States Federal Archives and Records Center. NARA M1645, M1646, M1647, and M1648. FHL microfilm, 20 reels. Family History Library Salt Lake City, Utah.
Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection
Please add sample citations to this article following the format guidelines in the wiki article listed above.
Examples of Citations
- United States. Bureau of the Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: September 29, 2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71
- Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933, digital images, from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Fernandez Jimenez, 1 Feb. 1910, San Pedro Apóstol, Cuahimalpa, Distrito Federal, Mexico, film number 0227023