Massachusetts Naturalization Index (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Massachusetts Naturalization Index, 1906-1966 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Massachusetts, United States
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Flag of the United States of America
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Seal of the National Archives
Record Description
Record Type Naturalization Petition and Records Index
Record Group RG 21: Records of the District Courts of the United States
Collection years 1906-1966
Microfilm Publication M 1545. Index to Naturalization Petitions and records of the U.S. District Court,1906-1966, and the U.S. Circuit Court,1906-1911 for the District of Massachusetts. 115 rolls.
National Archives Identifier 5634058
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives and Records Administration


What is in the Collection?

Images of naturalization petition card indexes in the United States Circuit and District Courts of the District Massachusetts. The cards are arranged alphabetically by surname and are in two parts. The records are located at the National Archives New England Region.

  • Index, 1906-1926, Rolls 1-27
  • Index, 1925-1966, Rolls 28-115

This card index indexes part of Petition and Records of Naturalization ,12/1790-2/1991 NAID 595176

Collection Content

General Information About These Records

The actual naturalization volumes are on printed forms and are often typewritten

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

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.

Naturalization is the process of granting citizenship privileges and responsibilities to foreign-born residents. New York’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.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

The cards include the following:

  • Name of immigrant
  • Age
  • Birth date
  • Date and place Certificate of Admission was issued
  • Petition number
  • Spouse's name (sometimes)

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search 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 1910 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 by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. 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.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the wiki 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.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

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.

Keep in Mind:

  • Look for the Declaration of Intent soon after the immigrant arrived, and 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 naturalizations.
  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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:

"Massachusetts Naturalization Index, 1906-1966." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Fold3.com. http://www.fold3.com : n.d. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1545. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. 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.

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 Massachusetts Naturalization index, 1906-1966.


How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

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