West Virginia Naturalization and Citizenship
Most West Virginia courts or counties recorded naturalization proceedings in the minutes and dockets of the courts rather than keeping separate registers. Prior to 1906, any court of record could naturalize immigrants. From 1906 to 1929 the federal government regulated naturalization but allowed most state or county courts to continue naturalizing immigrants. After 1929 only federal courts handled naturalizations.
For pre-1906 naturalizations, you will have to search the records of all local, state, and federal courts in the area where your ancestor lived. In West Virginia, most immigrants were naturalized in the state circuit or county courts so you will want to begin your search in those courts. These records are in the possession of the clerk of the circuit court or county clerk of the county. The Family History Library has copies of most West Virginia court records to the early 1900s.
Post 1906 Records
For naturalization records after September 1906, contact the National Archives—Mid-Atlantic Region for the records of the U.S. district courts in West Virginia. Some records between 1906 and 1929 are also at the office of the clerk of the circuit court in each county. In 1906, the Immigration and Naturalization Service or INS was created. Forms were standardized and copies of naturalization documents were sent to INS. In 1906 most naturalization was moved to federal courts. The INS is now the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS. To access records the INS records, use the Genealogy Program at www.uscis.gov.
West Virginia Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.
- NOTE: All information in the original research outline has been added to the FamilySearch Wiki, where it is both enhanced and updated by the genealogical community.