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Immigration and Naturalization Records

Ancestry.com introduces it's all new exclusive US Immigration Collection!
Search US Immigration Collection now:    

Naturalization records are among the most valued records for family historians. In many cases, this is not so much due to the information that they contain, as for what they represent. Before 1906, there was often very little data in these naturalization records, but these documents remain an important piece in the story of our ancestors' lives.

In 1906, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization was created in an attempt to standardize the entire immigration and naturalization process. Before that time, there was likely confusion for the immigrant and subsequent confusion for the descendant trying to locate their ancestor's naturalization. The difficulty is that records of naturalization before 1906 could be located with any court. The Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization created standardized forms upon which the naturalization paperwork was to be completed. The Bureau determined which courts were permitted to naturalize, with an eventual emphasis on federal courts.

Some points to keep in mind as you start your search for naturalization records:

  • Naturalization was not required and many of our ancestors may never have bothered to establish citizenship status
  • Some immigrants returned to their homeland and never naturalized.
  • Women were not required to become separately naturalized until 1922
  • Minor children of American citizens (naturalized or by nativity) and children born in the U.S. have not been required to naturalize.
     

Naturalization records in hand with Immigration records can provide a more complete picture of your ancestor's US Immigration.

 

Search for your immigrant ancestors:
Find out when your ancestors first arrived in America.

  First Name: Last Name:
   
 

These records contain:

  • New York Passenger Lists
  • Baltimore Passenger Lists
  • Philadelphia Passenger Lists
  • New Orleans Passenger Lists

Expect to find rich details such as:

Age: clue for birth and baptismal records in the old country.
Occupation: provides insight into the ancestor's life before they came to America.
Place of Origin: know where to look for records based on where the ancestor emigrated.
Destination: know where to look in the U.S. Federal Census and other records - look in the next census taken after their arrival.
Name of Ship and Registry Number: obtain a photo of the ship and a description of its size, voyages, and history to add context to the ancestor's journey.
Type of Ship: sail or steam?   Bark or brig?   Envision their experience.
Port and Date of Departure: combined with the arrival date, learn how many days the ancestor was at sea before they arrived in America.
Port and Date of Arrival: what was happening the day they arrived?   Was it a blustery winter day or a sweltering summer evening?
National Archives Series Number, Microfilm Number, and List Number:   details on where to find the original documents.

 

This is the most extensive collection of immigration records available online.  The chances of finding information on your ancestors is virtually guaranteed
-- Includes five centuries of records (1500's-1900's), covering many different nationalities/ethnic groups and all major ports of arrival
-- The largest, most continuous, and most uniform body of passenger records for the entire country (with the exception of the U.S. Federal Census records)
-- Whether your ancestors were German, British, Irish, Canadian, Chinese or among the immigrants from the more than 100 other countries included in this collection, they left a record of their journey to America
-- The passenger lists are from every port of arrival in the U.S. (Atlantic and Pacific Ports) and Canada
 

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