Indiana Naturalization and Citizenship
Naturalization proceedings have been handled by local, state, and federal courts. These records include declarations of intention, petitions for naturalization, and certificates of citizenship. Naturalization records before 1906 may give port of arrival and date, and sometimes the date and place of birth. After 1906 they usually provide the person’s name, the name of his or her spouse and children, with their birth dates and places, name of the ship, and date and place of arrival. In Indiana no naturalization proceedings are known to exist prior to 1807; from 1807 to 1813, the county Court of Common Pleas granted citizenship upon petition.
Since statehood, the following courts handled naturalization matters: Circuit Court (1814–1960s), Probate Court (1829–1852), Court of Common Pleas, (1853–1873), and Superior Courts (1871–1960s). The Indiana Supreme Court also naturalized people from 1856 to 1906. Many local courts stopped naturalizing as a result of a 1926 federal law and turned this duty over to the appropriate federal district court. Since jurisdiction was held concurrently in the counties, you should seek the order books and files of each court in existence at the time of search.
Naturalization declarations and petitions have been a part of the regular proceedings of the court and are found in the order book. As early as 1826, Franklin County began recording declarations in separate ledgers. Most counties followed suit by the mid-1850s. Pleadings filed with declarations and petitions were frequently filed with the regular case files of the court. All naturalization records are currently being transferred to the Indiana State Archives; about 60 counties have done so. Archive workers have abstracted many of these and placed them on the Internet. For trial court naturalization records, including those after 1906, contact the Indiana State Archives.
Prior to 1906
The Family History Library has microfilms of naturalization records from many counties. For instance, for residents of Indianapolis and Marion County, see:
- Marion County (Indiana). Clerk of the Circuit Court. Naturalization Records, Declaration and Intention, 1879–1927. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1965. (On eight FHL films beginning with 461066.) These include indexes for 1892 to 1906 on film 461072 and for 1843 to 1929 on film 540241.
The Indiana Historical Society has published an index from records that were compiled by the Work Projects Administration:
- An Index to Indiana Naturalization Records Found in Various Order Books of the Ninety-two Local Courts Prior to 1907. Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Historical Society, 1981. (FHL book 977.2 P42i; fiche 6087744.) This book contains over 42,000 names gathered from naturalization records from circuit court, court of common pleas, superior court, and probate order books located in each county. The book gives the person’s name, county, court, volume, page, and, generally, the year. The indexes were prepared by workers who were not well-trained in reading the handwriting, so there may be spelling errors.
The Family History Library has microfilms of a Soundex index to naturalization petitions from 1840 to 1950:
- United States. District Court (Illinois: Northern District). Soundex Index to Naturalization Petitions for U. S. District & Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois and Immigration and Naturalization Service District 9, 1840–1950. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1988. (On 183 FHL films, beginning with film 1432001.) This index is for the following northwest Indiana counties: Benton, Fulton, Jasper, Lake, La Porte, Marshall, Newton, Porter, Pulaski, St. Joseph, and Starke.
In 1906 the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) was created, forms were standardized, and duplicate records were created by the court and sent to the INS. To access these records, use the Genealogy Program at www.uscis.gov.
You may also contact the National Archives–Great Lakes Region (Chicago, Illinois). That office has files from the U.S. District Courts, Northern District (1906–1948). They have records of the U.S. District Court, Southern District, which includes declarations of intention (1906–1948), petitions (1908–1948), and naturalization (1918– 1925). See the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline for the address.
Naturalization records are listed in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
INDIANA- NATURALIZATION AND CITIZENSHIP
INDIANA, [COUNTY]- NATURALIZATION AND CITIZENSHIP
INDIANA, [COUNTY], [TOWN]- NATURALIZATION AND CITIZENSHIP
Indiana Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.