Citizenship & Naturalization Records

Citizenship records are becoming increasingly popular with genealogists and family historians as they become more readily accessible and the rich content of their data becomes more widely recognized.

Naturalization is the legal procedure by which an alien becomes a citizen of the United States. Naturalization records may provide a vital link for tracing an ancestor to his or her country of origin and can be a rich source of information about the immigrant and his or her family. This is particularly true for records created after 1906 since modifications to America's immigration policies required courts to record more detailed information about individuals wishing to be U.S. citizens.

Resources available in our reading room:

  • Records of naturalization in the Circuit Court of Kenosha County, Wisconsin, 1850-1983
    Kenosha County Petitions and Declarations of Intent are indexed in an alphabetical card file contained in eighteen catalog card drawers plus three additional drawers identified as "Addendum." The eighteen drawers cover the 1850-1977 period and are duplicated (some with additional information) within the addendum. After 1977, all naturalizations were indexed only in the addendum. Records (some containing the applicant's photo) found in the index can be retrieved by Archives staff and made available for your examination.

  • Records of naturalization in the Circuit Court of Racine County, Wisconsin, 1837-1982
    Racine County Petitions are indexed in an alphabetical card file. Vol.1 of the Petitions contains additional indexing information for records filed between 1837 & 1881. Declarations are indexed in Volume 1 and 2 for 1838-1881 and at the beginning of each volume thereafter. Currently, there is no onsite cumulative index for Declarations filed in the 1881-1975 period. Records found in the index can be retrieved by Archives staff and made available for your examination. Declarations can be retrieved if the filing date or number is known.


Additional Resources for Genealogists & Historians:

  • National Archives Records Administration
    Many persons were naturalized in Federal Courts, such as a U.S. District Court or U.S. Circuit Court. On this site, you may learn more about naturalization records at the National Archives and order Immigration Records online.

  • Castle Garden Immigration Center, 1820-1913
    Castle Garden was America's first official immigration center and the predecessor to the better known Ellis Island. This database contains more than 10 million immigrants who arrived at the Port of New York from 1830 through 1892—the year Ellis Island opened. Even after 1893, many immigrants were admitted to the U.S. at Castle Garden and the site's searchable database includes dates from 1820 through 1913. Records for individuals include their occupation, age, arrival date, ship, port of departure, and nationality.

  • Ellis Island Passenger Arrivals
    The Ellis Island site covers the period 1892-1924, when 22 million passengers entered the Port of New York through Ellis Island. Basic searches in the site's 25 million records indicate the residence, arrival date and age for each individual. Additional information available in the site's 25 million-plus records include photographs of many of the ships, as well as their manifests, but these features are only available to registered users. Registration is free, but requires an active email account for processing. The Ellis Island site also includes some good information on genealogy, as well as the history of the site itself.

  • Danish Emigration Archives
    This site provides detailed records for Danish immigrants to the U.S. between 1869 and 1908. The searchable database records include the names, last residence, age, year of immigration and the first destination of the individuals. Many also include the person's occupation (in Danish). The site contains nearly 400,000 records and has a helpful FAQ page for first time visitors.

  • WHS Overview of the Naturalization Process and Naturalization Records
    The WHS has composed a brief history of the laws governing the process by which an individual becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. Here, the WHS also discusses the sorts of records generated by that naturalization process and the type of information typically found in citizenship records.


Noteworthy Considerations:

When researching naturalization records it is important to realize that an immigrant could start and finish the process at any court that was authorized to grant citizenship. Consequently, immigrants often went to courts other than their "local" county court. Residents of northern Racine County often went to Milwaukee to complete the naturalization process because it was just as close and the Milwaukee court had many more days devoted to immigration issues than did the Racine court. Similarly, many residents of southern Kenosha County went to the federal courthouse in Chicago.

If you are unable to visit our facility, we will be happy to provide you with copies of records located in our office: Please contact us with your request. It is helpful if you list your subject's name, location and dates of milestones.

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