Court of Chancery (5th, 6th, and 8th Circuits). Naturalization papers, ca. 1830–1847, Series J1061 (1 box). New York State Archives, Albany, New York.
This collection consists of digitized images of naturalizations held at the New York State Archives. They come from the Supreme Courts of Judicature of Albany (1799–1812) and Utica (1822–1839) and the 5th, 6th, and 8th Circuit Courts of Chancery, which covered portions of central and western New York State (1830–1847). Prior to 1840, the naturalizations are handwritten in various formats, and the details can include the following:
- age and/or date of birth
- place of origin
- nation and ruler of former allegiance
- date of arrival in the United States
- name of the court of record
- affidavits from witnesses regarding residency requirements in the United States (five years) and New York (one year)
With the introduction of pre-printed forms around 1840, you may find fewer details than in earlier years, but there are exceptions.
Introduction to Naturalization Records
The act and procedure of becoming a citizen of a country is called naturalization. In the U.S., naturalization is a judicial procedure that flows from Congressional legislation. From the time the first naturalization act was passed in 1790 until 1906, there were no uniform standards. As a consequence, before September 1906, various federal, state, county, and local courts generated a wide variety of citizenship records that are stored in sundry courts, archives, warehouses, libraries, and private collections. After 1906 the vast majority of naturalizations took place in federal courts.
Naturalization laws have changed over the years. These acts are important to understand as they would have greatly impacted when your ancestor was able to become naturalized, as well as the exact process he or she had to go through to become a citizen. For example, some naturalization acts required residency in the U.S. for a certain number of years, some excluded certain ethnicities from being able to become citizens, and others helped expedite the citizenship process for those who served in the military.
The Naturalization Process
The first responsibility for an immigrant wishing to become an official U.S. citizen was to complete a Declaration of Intention. These papers are sometimes called “First Papers” since they are the first forms to be completed in the naturalization process. Generally, these papers were filled out fairly soon after an immigrant's arrival in America. Due to some laws, there were times when certain groups of individuals were exempt from this step.
After the immigrant had completed these papers and met the residency requirement (which was usually five years), the individual was able to submit a Petition for Naturalization. Petitions are also known as “Second” or “Final Papers” because they are the second and final set of papers completed in the naturalization process.
Immigrants also took a naturalization oath, or oath of allegiance. A copy of this oath is often filed with the immigrant's first or second papers. After an immigrant had completed all citizenship requirements he was issued a certificate of naturalization. Many of these documents can be found in the records of the court in which they were created. Other naturalization records include naturalization certificate stubs and certificates of arrival.Many immigrants took out their First Papers as soon as they arrived in America, in whatever county and state that may have been. Later they would file their Second Papers in the location where they took up residence.