Prior to 1906, Naturalization documents were filed in various courts; You will need to know which court the documents were filed. The types of courts may include the county, supreme, circuit, district, equity, chancery, probate, or common pleas court.
– There are many online indexes that you can check for free. Find these indexes on County websites, at Historical Societies, online at Family Search or Ancestry etc…
– Use census records to see if your ancestor naturalized because not everyone did.
– Use census records to narrow down a time frame of when your ancestor naturalized as well as where they were living, this might help you determine when/where they filed papers.
Who to contact for pre 1906 records
– Contact the State Archives for the state where the naturalization occurred to request a search of state, county, and local courts records.
– Contact the NARA regional facility that serves the state where naturalization occurred to request a search of Federal court records
– As a general rule, the National Archives does not have naturalization records created in State or local courts. However, some county court naturalization records have been donated to the National Archives and are available as National Archives microfilm publications.
– If the naturalization took place in a Federal court, naturalization indexes, declarations of intent, and petitions will usually be in the NARA regional facility serving the State in which the Federal court is located.
– Check the NARA regional facility websites to see a list of their holdings
– Example National Archives Chicago Click Here
So you found an index card for your ancestors naturalization, what do you do now? Well sometimes the records are available for free online at Family Search (or other sites). So we will walk you through how to find those records.
**This method doesn’t always work, it depends if the collection is available online. The information from the index card can still be useful though when contacting the archives that hold the record.
1) We found a record and then jotted down the main info like the Name, Date, Petition Number, Location and noted the collection as “Illinois, Northern District (Eastern Division), Naturalization Index, 1926-1979.”
4) Scroll/flip until you find the petition matching the number from the index card