California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index, 1915-1976 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
California, United States
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Seal of the National Archives
Record Description
Record Type Naturalization Index
Record Group RG 21: Records of the District Courts of the United States
Collection years 1915-1976
Microfilm Publication M1525. Naturalization Index Cards of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, Central Division, Los Angeles, 1915-1976. 114 rolls.
Arrangement Alphabetical in two parts. Part A 1915-1930 and Part B 1930-1976.
National Archives Identifier 618115
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


What is in the Collection?

This collection is a card index to naturalization records in the circuit and district courts of California. The cards are arranged alphabetically by surname in two parts. Part A 1915 -1930 and Part B 1930 -1976.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index, 1915-1976.

Collection Content

Sample Image

The actual naturalization volumes vary in size and format. Prior to the late 1800s each document was usually handwritten on one page. From the late 1800s and on, printed forms were used. After 1906, many entries were typewritten.

While there were various types of naturalization records, the Declaration of Intent and Naturalization Petition usually had the most complete genealogical information.

Naturalization is the process of granting citizenship privileges and responsibilities to foreign-born residents. California’s counties recorded naturalization procedures in the court records as legal proof of citizenship. The courts handling naturalizations changed several times so the card index was created as a way to quickly access specific records. 

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. 

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.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

The index cards include the following:

  • Petition number
  • Date of petition
  • Name and residence of petitioner
  • Volume and page number of the petition

Some of the index cards also show:

  • Declaration number
  • Date of declaration
  • Alien registration number
  • Volume and page number of the declaration
  • Certificate number
  • Date of issuance

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

In post-1906 records, you may also find:

  • Birth date
  • Birthplace
  • Age
  • Race
  • Last foreign residence
  • Current residence
  • Arrival date and place
  • Marital status
  • Name of spouse
  • Maiden name of wife

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know at least some of 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 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.

Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information in the list to what you already know about your ancestor to determine if it is the correct family or person. You may need to compare several persons in the list before you find your ancestor.

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Pagethen select the Description.


For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use the information in the records to find records in his or her country of origin such as emigrations, port records, ship’s manifests, birth, christening, marriage, and census records.
  • Learn foreign and “Americanized” names
  • Use the information in each record to find additional family members.
  • Repeat this process with additional family member’s records to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.


I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • Try viewing the original record to see if there were errors in the transcription of the name, age, residence, etc. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relations that can be verified by records.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of California, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the California Archives and Libraries.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.


Collection Citation:

"California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index, 1915-1976." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing District.Court. National Archives and Records Service, Los Angeles Branch, Laguna Niguel.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index, 1915-1976.


Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index, 1915-1976.


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