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Naturalization & Immigration Records: More

Federal Naturalization Records

In 1906, the federal government standardized the naturalization forms and processes and began requiring the county courts to send copies of naturalizations to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  This means that there should be a federal copy of all post-1906 naturalization records, regardless of the court where the papers were filed.

After the county courts stopped granting citizenship in the 1970s, all naturalizations went through the federal courts.  The Minnesota Historical Society does not have federal records.  Historic records filed with federal courts in Minnesota are held by the National Archives regional offices in Chicago and Kansas City.  

Modern citizenship records are held by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, a part of the Department of Homeland Security.  If you need an official copy of your own records, you should request a copy through their office.  

Published Passenger Lists

Many collections of passenger lists have been published in book form.  Most of these focus on a specific port of entry and/or a specific nation of origin. Some of the more popular sets are:

  • Czech Immigration Passenger Lists 
    MNHS call number: Reading Room E184.C95 B33 1983
  • Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports
    MNHS call number: Reading Room E184.G3 G38 1988 and Reading Room E184.G3 G39 2002
  • German Immigrants: Lists of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York
    MNHS call number: Reading Room E184.G3 Z563 1986 and Reading Room E184.G3 Z564 1988
  • The Famine Immigrants: Lists of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York, 1846-1851
    MNHS call number: Reading Room E184.I6 F25 1983
  • Migration from the Russian Empire: Lists of Passengers Arriving at the Port of New York
    MNHS call number: Reading Room E184.R9 M54 1995
  • Swedish Passenger Arrivals in New York, 1820-1850
    MNHS call number: Reading Room E184.S23 O43

Many passenger lists can also be searched online. Please see the box below for links and more information.

Other Sources

Other possible avenues of naturalization and immigration research include:

  • Other Passenger Lists
  • Border Crossings
  • Passport Application Documents
  • Visa Application files
  • Federal Alien Registration (Germans during World War I and all non-citizens during World War II)

Some of these types of records can be searched through genealogy search websites like FamilySearch.org or Ancestry.com.  

FamilySearch.org is a free site that can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.  

Ancestry.com is a paid, subscription site, and on-site Library visitors can access it through our subscription.  Many other libraries also provide free access to Ancestry.com to their patrons.      

Search Elsewhere

Useful Terms

Alien - A citizen of one country living in another country 

Alien Registration - One of several efforts by state or federal governments to record information about all non-citizens, conducted during World War I and World War II 

Declaration of Intent - First step to legal citizenship in the U.S., requiring the alien to declare his true intent to become a citizen and renounce his previous loyalties; also called "First Papers"

Derivative Citizenship - When a person's citizenship status is based on that of another person (children from their parents, for example).  

Naturalization - Process by which an alien becomes a citizen 

Petition for Naturalization - Final naturalization step in the U.S., requiring a formal application for legal citizenship ; also called "Final Papers

Records of Naturalization and Oaths of Allegiance - Document that grants U.S. citizenship; also called the "Certificate of Naturalization"

SoundEx - An indexing system that allows simultaneous searching for names that sound similar, but are spelled differently

Visa - Official document allowing a non-citizen to enter the country, issued by U.S. embassies or consulates

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