California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|Access the Records|
California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index, 1915-1976 .
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|California, United States|
|Flag of California|
|Location of California|
- 1 What is in the Collection?
- 2 Collection Content
- 3 General Information About These Records
- 4 How Do I Search the Collection?
- 5 What Do I Do Next?
- 6 What If I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?
- 7 Related Websites
- 8 Related Wiki Articles
- 9 How You Can Contribute
- 10 Citing this Collection
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. The collection includes records from 1915 to 1976.
|You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index, 1915-1976.|
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
- Last foreign residence
- Current residence
- Arrival date and place
- Marital status
- Name of spouse
- Maiden name of wife
General Information About These Records
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.
How Do I Search the Collection?
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 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.
Search the Collection
To search the collection by name:
Fill in the requested information on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the “Description” which takes you to the images.
With either search keep in mind:
- There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
- You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
- Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.
For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.
What Do I Do Next?
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, you can 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
- Some of these records show the orginal name of the individual and the name they are using in America, this can be helpful in locating them in their home country
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Look for the Declaration of Intent soon after the immigrant arrived, 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 naturalization's.
- 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.
- These cards may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
What If I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?
- 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.
- Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.
|Don't overlook FHL Keyword California, Naturalization and Citizenship items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see the wiki article California Archives and Libraries.|
- Index to Petitions for Naturalization,1887-1991 National Archives
- Naturalization Records Pacific Region
- National Archives Pacific Region
- National Archives Naturalization Records Introduction and Links to Resources
- Immigration and Naturalization Laws,1790-2005
- California indexes to Naturalization
Related Wiki Articles
- United States Naturalization Laws
- California Naturalization and Citizenship
- United States Naturalization and Citizenship
How You Can Contribute
| We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records. |
Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.
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.
- "California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index, 1915-1976." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. 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.|
|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.|