Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Naturalization of aliens, provided for by an act of the First Congress in 1790, involves declaring intention of citizenship ("First Papers"); waiting the required residency period; petitioning a court for citizenship ("Second Papers"); providing proof that the residency requirement has been met; and taking an oath of allegiance.
Before the nineteenth amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, women became citizens by marrying a citizen or through their husbands' becoming naturalized. After 1922, the federal government began keeping separate naturalization records for married women. Children under 16 are listed on the father's naturalization records.
Prior to September 26, 1906, naturalization proceedings took place in local,
state, or federal courts. The law did not require that aliens petition for
citizenship in the same court in which they had declared their original
intentions. Beginning in 1906, Connecticut naturalization records were filed at
the federal district courts in Hartford, New Haven, or Bridgeport, and copies
were forwarded to the newly created Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization in
Information found in naturalization records varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Later records contain more information than earlier ones. In general, the documents consist of two pages for each naturalization, with all or some of the following information: petition for citizenship, oath of allegiance, record of previous citizenship, place and date of birth, occupation, place and date of arrival in the United States, name of the ship, place of residence at the time of application, and name and address of a witness to these statements.
An introduction to the topic of naturalization may be found in:
Connecticut Naturalization Records
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, naturalization records from some of Connecticut's municipal courts were transferred to the US District Courts for Connecticut. Those records were subsequently transferred to the National Archives along with naturalization records from the federal courts for Connecticut (United States District and Circuit Courts) for the 131 years from 1842 to 1973. All of these records -- municipal and federal court -- are cataloged as National Archives Record Group 21 at the National Archives -- New England Region, 380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, MA 02154 (tel. 781-663-0130).
Under a November 5, 1984 agreement between the National Archives and the Chief Court Administrator of the State of Connecticut Judicial Department, Connecticut naturalization records for non-federal courts (including Superior Court, Courts of Common Pleas, County Courts, and several municipal courts) were transferred to the National Archives -- New England Region beginning in December 1984. These records were organized as National Archives Record Group 200 in the Gift Collection.
This means that the National Archives keeps some Connecticut municipal court naturalization records in Record Group 21 and others in Record Group 200. Many of the nineteenth century records consist only of ledger book lists of names and dates; the original papers never were located in the courthouses.
More Connecticut naturalizations, included in the records of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, are at Waltham in National Archives Record Group 85.
To conform to the agreement mentioned above, beginning in 1984, post-1789 naturalization records found among court records in the State Archives at the Connecticut State Library (approximately 1% of the total) were transferred to the National Archives -- New England Region. As additional naturalization records are found among civil court files in the State Archives, those dated 1790 or later will continue to be transferred to Waltham. The State Archives will still retain any earlier naturalization records.
Although originals were transferred to the National Archives -- New England
Region, the State Archives has photocopies of the following:
The photocopies are subject to the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections Materials.
The State Library also has microfilm copies (made by the Genealogical Society of Utah) of some of the municipal court, county court, and court of common pleas records which were transferred to Waltham. The films are available for use in the History and Genealogy Reading Room at the State Library or through LDS Family History Centers.
Index to New England Naturalization Petitions
The Works Progress Administration, at the request of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service in the later 1930s, undertook a project to centralize information from naturalization records. The project was not completed on a national scale, but most New England records were copied through the dexigraph process. A card index to the copies was prepared, covering naturalization records in Connecticut courts from 1790 to June 30, 1939 and in the courts of the other New England states from 1787 to 1906. The original index, known as the Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, is now housed at the National Archives -- New England Region. The Connecticut State Library's History and Genealogy Unit has a microfilm copy (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1299).
Dexigraph copies of the naturalization records for Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont are housed at the National Archives -- New England Region in National Archives Record Group 85. The copies of the Connecticut records have not been located by the National Archives -- New England Region and so are not available.
The Index to New England Naturalization Petitions consists of 3" x 5" cards arranged in three groups: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the remainder of New England. Each group is arranged by the name of petitioner according to the Soundex system. The Index references the name and location of the court that granted the certificate of naturalization, the date of naturalization, and volume and page number (or certificate number) of the naturalization record. On the printed cards are spaces, often left blank, for other information from the naturalization papers --such as place and date of birth.
Researchers should be aware, when using the microfilm version of the Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, that some groups of cards apparently were filmed out of sequence. If an individual's name cannot be found after a thorough search of the film, it may be necessary to contact the National Archives -- New England Region to have the original (non-microfilmed) card index searched.
The following materials, housed in the
State Archives, are available for use in-house. Consult the
Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured
Collections Materials. Not all materials are stored on site; some may not be
retrieved the same day. Materials housed at the off-site storage facility are
retrieved Monday through Friday at 10:30 a.m. For additional information, please
see Use of Offsite
and Secured Collections.
Record Group 000, Classified Archives. Access to the Classified Archives is through the Manuscripts and Archives Card Catalog in the History and Genealogy Reading Room. Consult this catalog for records of ethnic groups, which may contain lists of members.
Record Group 001, Early General Records, Connecticut Archives Series. These Connecticut governmental papers outline the rights and laws as they pertained to aliens and freemen, along with information on naturalization. There are a select few General Assembly petitions for naturalization made by aliens living in Connecticut prior to 1820. Two alphabetical slip indexes for series I & II of this collection are available for use at the Connecticut State Library.
Record Group 010, Records of the Department of Education. Boxes 2-6 include some passports and birth certificates ca. 1870-1930, which foreign-born persons submitted to the Department of Education when applying for work permits.
Record Group 029, Records of the Connecticut Military Census. Boxes 26-29 contain lists of enemy aliens; boxes 30-33 contain lists of aliens; and box 34 contains miscellaneous materials relating to aliens. A separate information sheet on the Connecticut Military Census microfilms is available.
Record Group 030, Records of the Council of Defense, 1917-1919. Boxes 172-174 contain lists of aliens by region of origin.
A Research Guide to Ships' Passenger Lists at the Connecticut State Library is also available.
Prepared by the History and Genealogy Unit, Connecticut State Library, 11-96. Revised 04-2008.