In 1790 the first law was passed which provided for an alien who desired to become a citizen of the U. S. People could apply to “any common law court of record, in anyone of the states wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least.” They were usually conducted in federal, state or local courts. These records should be in the district court for the district in which the proceedings took place. They might have been transferred to a regional archives branch or to National Archives.
Declarations of Intention are instruments where applicants for US citizenship renounced any allegiance to foreign sovereignties and declared their intention of becoming a US citizen. It shows the name, country of birth or allegiance, date of the application nd the signature. Some will show the date and port of arrival in the US. After 1906 more detailed records were kept which added the age, occupation, personal description, date and place of birth, present address, last foreign address, vessel and port of embarkation for the US. Proof was required of the residence of the applicant.
Naturalization petitions: These are instruments by which those who had declared their intentions of becoming a US citizen, had met the residency requirements, made formal application. It includes name, residence, occupation, date and place of birth, citizenship, personal description of applicant, date of emigration, port of embarkation and arrival, marital status, names, dates, places of birth and residence of the applicant’s children, date at which US residence commenced, time of residence in the state, name changes and signature. Copies of the declaration of intention, certificates of arrival and certificates of citizenship classes are often interfiled with the petitions. After 1930, petitions often included photographs.
Naturalization depositions: Formal statements in support of an applicant’s petition by witnesses designated by the applicant. These indicate the period of applicant’s residence in the locale, witnesses’ appraisals of the applicant’s character.
Records of naturalization and oaths of allegiance documents the granting of citizenship. These were originally often only available in the minute books of the court. Later records are in the form of certificates. In some cases, all the above are put together in a petition and record book.
In Kentucky: No location was indicated in the 1970’s as to where these records are kept!
Next week – a little about ports of entry for individuals coming to America.