New Jersey Naturalization and Citizenship
Few naturalizations were required in the colonial period since most immigrants came from the British Isles. Naturalizations that did occur can usually be found either in court or legislative records. Between 1702 and 1776, the New Jersey General Assembly passed acts granting citizenship to over 640 specific individuals who petitioned either the Assembly or the Supreme Court. The records seldom give more than names and places of residence. The Supreme Court minutes, described in the "Court Records" section of this outline, have naturalizations beginning in 1741. Lists of persons naturalized before 1790 can be found in:
New Jersey. Supreme Court. Naturalization Records, 1749-1873; Card Index, 1761-1860. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1978. (FHL films 1022906-14.) These microfilms include petitions, 1749-1810 and 1851-1873, also naturalization records, 1761-1860.
Index to Naturalization Records, 1703-1862. (FHL film 913176 item 1.) This is a card index to legislative naturalization petitions, 1703 to 1776, 1785, and 1787 and also to Supreme Court and Chancery Court naturalizations (see below for film numbers).
Stevenson, John R. Persons Naturalized in New Jersey Between 1702 and 1776, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Record, Volume 28; April 1897: 86-89. (FHL book 974 B2n, Volume28; film 962873 item 4.)
Winkel, Peter A. Naturalizations, Province of New Jersey, 1747-1775, The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey 65 (1990): 1-8, 59-66. (FHL book 974.9 B2g.)
Guide to Naturalization Records in New Jersey. Newark, New Jersey: Historical Records Program, 1941. (FHL fiche 6045826.)
After 1790 aliens could declare their intention to become citizens and later be naturalized in any court. Most naturalizations took place in the county courts of common pleas, but naturalizations were also recorded by circuit, chancery (since 1802), supreme, U.S. district, and other courts. A 1794 law granted aliens the right to own real estate if, prior to purchase, they had filed a declaration of intention to become a citizen.
County clerks have naturalization records from about 1795 through 1929. Since 1930 most new citizens have naturalized at the U.S. District Court of New Jersey at Newark, Trenton, or Camden. County clerks also have separate volumes of military petitions of soldiers who were naturalized after Civil War and World War I service.
The Family History Library has court of common pleas naturalization records to 1906 for all counties except Camden. The state archives has these same records for all counties, including Camden. The Family History Library is currently acquiring microfilms of county naturalizations from 1906 to about 1930 and of the indexes, which usually extend many years beyond. Other collections at the state archives and Family History Library include:
- Chancery court declarations and naturalizations, 1832-1847, 1852, 1856-1858, 1861-1862 (FHL film 1022907)
- Supreme court naturalization orders to be admitted a citizen, 1851 to 1873 and declarations of intention, 1852 to 1869(FHL film 1022908)
- Supreme court naturalization numbered files, 1761 to 1860 (FHL films 1022910-1) and card index, 1761-1860 (FHL film 1022909)
The three sets of records listed above often give the person's town or county of birth and sometimes give the birth date, place and date of emigration, and place and date of arrival in the United States.
Naturalization declarations and petitions and indexes for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, 1838 to 1985, are at the National Archives — Northeast Region.
The following is an inventory of the naturalization records found in the various courthouses in New Jersey as of 1941:
Guide to Naturalization Records in New Jersey. Newark, New Jersey: Historical Records Program, 1941. (FHL book 974.9 A3h; fiche 6045826.) This book does not list the names of persons. It tells the type of naturalization records, and the years they were kept, in each county prior to 1940.