District of Columbia Naturalization and Citizenship
Naturalization is the process of granting citizenship to foreign-born residents. Naturalization papers are an important source of information about an immigrant’s place of origin, his foreign and Americanized names, residence, and date of arrival.
Immigrants to the United States have never been required to apply for citizenship. Of those who applied, many did not complete the requirements for citizenship. Evidence that an immigrant completed citizenship requirements can be found in censuses, court minutes, homestead records, passports, voting registers, and military papers. Even if an immigrant ancestor did not complete the process and become a citizen, he may have filed a declaration. These declarations can be very helpful.
Various types of records were created during the naturalization process, including declarations of intention, petitions for naturalization, oaths of allegiance and certificates of naturalization and citizenship. Each record can give details about a person, such as age, residence, country or city of origin, ethnic background, the date and port of arrival, the name of the ship, names of spouse and children with their birth dates and places, and previous residences or current address.
Records for earlier years usually contain less information than those after 1906, when the federal court system for naturalization was revised and details such as birth date and place, physical description, and marital status may be given.
Naturalization records have been filed in the county and district courts of the District of Columbia.
- Early circuit court naturalizations have been published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volumes 41-45 (1953–1957). FHL book 973 B2ng; film 001289 has Volumes 42-43. At various libraries (WorldCat).
The National Archives has district court naturalization records from 1802 to 1906. Most of the documents are declarations of intention or orders of admission. They are indexed to 1909. You can write to the National Archives for further information. The Family History Library has not acquired naturalization records for the District of Columbia.
Citizenship and Immigration Services
For naturalization records after September 1906, you may use the Genealogy Program of the Citizenship and Immigration Services or CIS.