Naturalization and Immigration Records
The Pennsylvania State Archives maintains
official ships' passenger lists on digitized microfilm (Record Group-26), recording the arrival of Continental Europeans (chiefly German, Dutch, Swiss and French) at the Port of Philadelphia, 1727-1744, 1746-1756, 1761, 1763-1775, 1785-1808. Lists dating before the Revolution do not cover British subjects since their status remained unchanged by their removal from one part of the King's dominion to another. [Digital Images]
In addition, naturalization records of the
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 1794-1868 (Record Group-33) are available for the Eastern District (Philadelphia), Southern District (Chambersburg), and Western District (Pittsburgh). The records cover the period 1794-1868 and usually contain only the following information: person's name, country of former allegiance, date of petition, and affidavit of acquaintance. An index of the records of the Eastern District in Philadelphia covering the years 1794-1868 has been published in
Philadelphia Naturalization Records: An Index to Records of Alliens' Declarations of Intention and/or Oaths of Allegiance, 1789-1880, in the United States Circuit Court, United States District Court, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Quarter Sessions Court, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia (Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1982). [Digital Images]
The Archives maintains naturalization lists of the Supreme Court and Courts of Nisi Prius (Record Group-21) for the years 1740-1773. These lists consist of names of those people who swore an oath of allegiance to the British Sovereign. Arranged chronologically, these lists were published in Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series, Volume 2 and have been reprinted as Persons Naturalized in the Province of Pennsylvania, 1740-1773 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967), with an index. [Digital Images]
Naturalization is a grant of the full legal rights and privileges of a native-born individual to a non-native foreigner. In England, in the American colonies, and in the United States, naturalizations have been granted by special legislative act, or by court proceedings authorized by legislation. The Pennsylvania State Archives maintains naturalization lists of the Supreme Court and the Courts of Nisi Prius for the years 1740-1773. Under British statute of 1740, an alien who had resided in a colony for at lest seven years could be naturalized by swearing an oath of allegiance before a local magistrate. (Immigrants from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland were not considered aliens, because they were already subjects of the British crown.)
How To Conduct a Naturalization Search
- Determine where the individual was naturalized. If the immigrant was naturalized in Philadelphia, consultPhiladelphia Naturalization Records. This index covers records from five courts: the Court of Common Pleas (CP), Court of Quarter Sessions (QS), United States Circuit Court (CC), United States District Court (DC), and the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (SC). If the final date of naturalization includes a notation of SC, these records will be held by the State Archives.
- This index was published as Philadelphia Naturalization Records:An Index to Records of Aliens' Declarations of Intention and/or Oaths of Allegiance, 1789-1880, in United States Circuit Court, United States District Court, Supreme Court of Pennsylavnia, Quarter Sessions Court, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia (Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., 1982). The published version is available in many libraries and historical societies throughout the country. The original, eleven-volume "Index to Records of Aliens' Declarations of Intention and/or Oaths of Allegiance, 1789-1880" (WPA Project #20837) is in the custody of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street, Philadephia, PA 19107.
- The Index supplies the following information: the person's name, the country of former allegiance, the court where he applied, and the date(s) of the declaration of intention and/or oath of allegiance. Copies of pages from this index may be obtained from the Historical Society at the aforementioned address, and it is available for research on digitized microfilm at the Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg. The State Archives does not search or copy the Index. The Index lists records from five courts:
- Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas - CP
- Philadelphia Court of Quarter Sessions - QS
- Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Easter District - SC
- United States Circuit Court, Philadelphia - CC
- United States District Court, Philadelphia - DC
- If your ancestor was naturalized in a court other than the Supreme Court, such as the Court of Common Pleas (CP), Court of Quarter Sessions (QS), United States Circuit Court (CC), or United States District Court (DC), contact the following:
- For City/County Court records (CP, QS) write:
Philadelphia City Archives, 3101 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 The City Archives has naturalization records for the City and County of Philadelphia for 1794-1903 and 1914-1930. There are no records of the 1904-1913 period available from the City.
- For Federal Court records (CC, DC) write: National Archives at Philadelphia, 14700 Townsend Road, Philadelphia, PA 19054, phone: (215)305-2044 The researcher is required to provide the following information: person's full name, date of declaration, court in which declaration was made, and the petition number.
- Persons who wish information about citizenship granted elsewhere before 1906 should send their inquiries to the clerk of the federal, state, county or municipal court that issued the naturalization certificate. The Immigration and Naturalization service, Washington, D.C. 20536, has duplicate records of all naturalizations that occurred after September 26, 1906.
- For copies of county naturalization records (naturalization papers, declarations of intention, alien dockets, etc.) kept by county officials in Pennsylvania, consult our digitized microfilm listing and
physical holdings listing for Record Group 47, Records of County Governments. Original copies of these records are generally held at each county's courthouse or historical society.