United States Naturalization Petitions contains more than 7.8 million records spanning the years 1905 to 1950. The collection currently covers four states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, and allows you to discover when and where your immigrant ancestor was born, how old they were when they first crossed the Atlantic and their port of entry. Images of the original documents may even include a photograph of your ancestor.

The United States government began to regulate the naturalization process, including the forms and courts authorized, in September 1906 with the formation of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (later known as the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS)). The changes that followed included more information being taken from applicants during the naturalization process as forms required applicants to record their occupation, birth date, and names of spouse and children.

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Naturalization (or naturalisation) is the legal act or process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country. Generally speaking, US naturalization was, at minimum, a 5-year process. There were two steps involved: the first involved filing a declaration of intent to become a U.S. citizen after living in the United States for 2 years, while the second occurred after an additional 3 years of living in the United States and involved submitting a petition for naturalization. When the petition was approved, a certificate of citizenship would be issued.

There were however a few exceptions to this general process of naturalization, which mainly pertained to wives and children. Derivative citizenship could be granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men, whilst minors who had lived in the United States for five years prior to their 23rd birthday were eligible to file their declarations and petitions simultaneously between 1824 and 1906.