Maryland Naturalization and Citizenship
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This section contains information unique to naturalization in Maryland.
For a general treatment of naturalization in the United States click here. That material will not be repeated here, but it is information you need to know to use naturalization records effectively. It will explain:
- The naturalization process
- The information the records might contain
- How to locate records
- How to use records
- Limitations of the records
- Naturalization law
- Changes that have occurred in the records
- Useful websites
- Definitions of terms unique to naturalization.
Few naturalizations were required in the colonial period since most immigrants came from the British Isles. The provincial legislature and the Governor and Council naturalized some foreigners. The earliest naturalizations were granted by the legislature in the form of laws. They contain little information beyond the name of the person being naturalized and their country of origin.
Early naturalizations were also granted by the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Chancery Court. Naturalization done in the courts became a multi-step process and the records created there began to take on more of the the form we expect from naturalization records.
The majority of those naturalized before 1776 came from European countries such as France, Switzerland, and Germany. These early naturalizations contain little information. They may, however, contain the religious affiliation of the applicant since only Protestants were allowed to be naturalized.
Most persons were naturalized in the later colonial period under a 1740 Act of Parliment. Some of the Supreme Court naturalizations fom 1741 to 1873 have survived, with the majority of the records being created before the American Revolution. These records are available at the New Jersey Archives in Trenton.
Nnaturalizations granted by the legislature can be found transcribed in the following five-volume set:
- Laws of the Royal Colony of New Jersey 1703-1775. Trenton, New Jersey: New Jersey State Library, Archives and History Bureau, 1977. The volumes are at the New Jersey State Archives and other libraries. The Family History Library has some of the volumes. The call number is FHL book 974.9 B49a.
The Maryland State Archives has several indexes to colonial naturalizations found in Provincial and General Court, General Assembly, and Governor and Council records of 1634 to 1776. Naturalizations of colonial German immigrants, including lists previously published in the Archives of Maryland are in:
- Wyand, Jeffrey A., and Florence L. Wyand, Colonial Maryland Naturalizations. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1975. (Family History Library book 975.2 W5w.) This source may include religion, birth date and place, death date and place, or residence.
After 1790 under federal naturalization law, aliens could declare intention to become citizens and later be naturalized in any federal, county, or city court. At this time the county courts, especially the Court of Common Pleas became a major place for naturalizations to take place. The Family History Library has copies of many of these county court records on microfilm.
Researchers need to realize that not all immigrants naturalized, nor have all naturalization records survived. People could own land, do business, settle estates, and live unhindered without it. The only unique privilege that came from being naturalized was the right to vote and buy land from the Federal Government.
The Maryland State Archives has most county naturalization records, indexes to many state and county records from 1777-1917, and indexes to Baltimore city and county naturalizations from 1796 to 1933. They also have a card index to naturalizations in the U.S. circuit court, 1852-1918, and U.S. district courts from 1797-1951 and another card index to records for the colonial period, 1637-1776.
You can find abstracts of naturalization records in:
- Oszakiewski, Robert Andrew, comp. Maryland Naturalization Abstracts. Two Volumes. Westminster, Maryland: Family Line Publications, 1995, 1996. (Family History Library book 975.2 P48o.) Volume one is County and Baltimore City, Maryland 1784-1851; the U.S. Circuit Court for Maryland, 1790-1851. Volume two is The County Court of Maryland, 1779-1851; the U.S. Circuit Court for Maryland, 1790-1851. These two volumes list name, place of origin, sources, naturalization date, and age.
Maryland Naturalization Records at National Archives -- Mid-Atlantic Region of Philadelphia
- Indexes to naturalization petitions to the U.S. Circuit and District Courts for the District of Maryland, 1797 to 1951. National Archives Publication M1168. Digitized at Ancestry.com. Also on film at the Family History Library (Family History Library films beginning with 1380472).
- Declarations of intention, 1911 to 1957, and petitions for naturalization, 1903 to 1955, from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
- Circuit court declarations of aliens and registry of aliens, 1816 to 1828.
- Declarations of intention, 1906 to 1911, for the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Maryland (Family History Library film 1738366).
- U.S. District Court intentions and petitions, 1792 to 1931 (on 67 Family History Library films beginning with 1738367).
- U.S. Circuit Court intentions, 1906 to 1911 (Family History Library film 1738366).
- U.S. Circuit Court petitions, 1790 to 1911 (Family History Library films 940136-142).
- Naturalization Petitions 1906-1930. National Archives Publication M1640. Digitized at Footnote.
Additional naturalization records are at the National Archives, Washington D.C.
Post 1906 Records
For naturalization records after September 1906, use the Genealogy Program at www.uscis.gov. At that time the federal government standardized the naturalization process courts and required to the courts to send a copy of papers they created to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) now the USCIS. Duplicate copies were often kept in the New Jersey court.
National Archives: http://www.archives.gov/
National Archives-Midatlantic Region: http://www.archives.gov/midatlantic/
Maryland State Archives: http://www.msa.md.gov/
Many counties are beginning to digitize their records or place indexes online. Other naturalization records, especially those that were granted in federal courts are being added to paid sited such as Ancestry or Footnote.
Maryland Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.