In the “Citizenship” column of the 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 United States censuses, the census taker would ask individuals if they had immigrated to the United States. If they were immigrants, they were asked to give their naturalization status. There were 4 different codes that the census taker could use to fill in these columns on the census page: Pa; AL; Na; and NR. Sometimes these codes, especially when they are poorly written, can be confusing. Here is what the codes mean, and how they apply to your research:

  • Pa. This stands for “papers filed.” If the immigrant had begun the naturalization process, the census taker would write this code in the column. “Papers filed” means that the declaration had been submitted to a court. This code does not mean that the immigrant naturalized in Pennsylvania. Trust me on this one!
  • AL. This is an abbreviation for “Alien,” meaning that the individual had not begun the process of naturalization and was still an alien. It has never been a requirement for an immigrant to naturalize in the United States, and some immigrants never went through the process. Check later censuses to see if the alien decided to naturalize later in life.
  • Na. This code stands for “naturalized.” When the immigrant finished the naturalization process and was a citizen of the United States, an “Na” was recorded on the census. You will want to look for a declaration and a petition for your ancestor, as both documents were required to complete the process and each document can contain different information, especially before 1906. A common mistake by beginning genealogists is to misinterpret the “Na” as a “No,” leading them to think the individual did not naturalize. This is never the case. The census taker was instructed to use an “AL” if the immigrant was not naturalized.
  • NR. This abbreviation stands for “Not Reported.” It was used when the immigrant did not give his naturalization status. Check all available censuses to see if the immigrant ever reported his naturalization status.

For more information on United States naturalization and how to find records, see this article on the FamilySearch Research Wiki.

And remember, although Pa or Grandpa actually might have come from Pennsylvania, the code “Pa” in the “Citizenship” column in the US census does not mean Pennsylvania!

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  1. This was some really good info for me It answered some questions and explains some things to me. Thanks again Linda Myers

    28 December 2010
    6:49 pm

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