Questions and Answers about Naturalization Records
Naturalization records are the documents from court procedures granting US citizenship. They typically include three documents -- a Declaration of Intention to become a citizen, Petition for Naturalization and Naturalization Certificate. Until 1983, the County Clerk, as Clerk of the Court in Nassau County, kept records pertaining to all individuals who applied for and were granted United States citizenship. The records are a valuable source of information about our ancestors. These unique documents are found only in the County Clerk's office and are an irreplaceable treasure.
The long term protection and computerization of records has been one of my major goals since being elected County Clerk and with the assistance of the Italian Genealogy Federation of Long Island we completed a volunteer based computer indexing of all Nassau County naturalization records. By creating a computer database of these important records, we are better able to assist residents in learning about their family history.
The index covers the 420 volumes of Declarations of Intention and Petitions and includes data on over 100,000 people. Those with an interest in genealogy will find this historical information of great value.
What are Naturalization records?
Naturalization records are court documents in the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship. They typically include three documents -- a Declaration of Intention to become a citizen, Petition for Naturalization and Naturalization Certificate.
What is the difference between a Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization and a Certificate of Naturalization?
Prior to 1952, a two-step process was required before an immigrant could become a U.S. citizen. Filing a Declaration of Intention was the first step. The Declaration is sometimes referred to as the "first papers." The Declaration could be filed anytime after the immigrant arrived. Generally, the law required that the immigrant reside in the U.S. 5 years before the Petition for Naturalization, or "second papers" could be filed. After the formal proceedings by the court, when the immigrant signed the oath of allegiance, a Certificate of Naturalization was given to the immigrant as proof of citizenship. The Declaration and Petition remained on file at the court. Note: After 1952, a Declaration was no longer mandatory although some immigrants filed them.
What is a Certificate of Arrival?
In an act of Congress passed on June 29, 1906 which became effective September 27, 1906, documentation was required to be submitted by the immigrant at the time he/she filed a Petition, showing the name under which they arrived, the date of arrival, port of entry and the name of the vessel. This Certificate of Arrival for Naturalization Purpose was issued by the Department of Labor, Immigration Service and is attached to Petitions filed after this date.
What kind of information is included on the Declaration of Intention?
Declarations of Intention usually include: name, address, occupation, physical description, age, birth date, birth place, date/port of arrival, port of departure from which the person left for the U.S., last foreign residence (usually city and Country), signature and date filed.
What information is included in the Petition for Naturalization?
The Petitions after 1906 included all the information required in the Declaration plus information on the applicant's spouse and children. This document also included the names, addresses and occupations of two witnesses provided by the applicant. Data included sometimes differs from and is sometimes more accurate than the data on the Declaration.
Does Certificate of Naturalization include all the above information?
No. The Certificate does have the name of the court, and the Petition number, which can speed your search for the Petition. In addition, the Certificate includes a personal description (age, color, complexion, color of eyes, hair, height, marital status), signature, address, and date naturalized. A photo was included beginning in 1929.
What is the history of this process?
In 1795, Congress enacted a statue requiring a Declaration of Intention to be filed 3 years before admission as a citizen, residence of 5 years in the U.S. and residence of one year in the state naturalized. An oath of allegiance, good moral character, renunciation of any title of nobility and the forswearing of allegiance to the reigning foreign sovereign were required. Before 1906, local, State and federal courts each had their own procedures and required forms for Petitions.
It was not until the law enacted on June 29, 1906 that biographical data of the applicant and the applicant's spouse and children were required. The immigrant's Declaration of Intention and Certificate of Arrival were required to be attached to the Petition for Naturalization because of this law.
How do I check to see if Nassau County has any Naturalization information relating to my family?
For information on specific names, please submit a 'Request for Naturalization Records.' The form and instructions are available by clicking here.