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Naturalization & Immigration Records: Step 3: Access

Necessary Information

To find and view a specific naturalization record at MNHS, you will need the following information that you obtained from the  index in Step 2:

  • Location/County 
  • Reel Number 
  • Volume
  • Page Number 

Search in the Catalog

Next, you will search in the Library's online catalog to find the SAM (Minnesota Historical Society State Archives Microfilm) call number for the record.

To search the catalog: 

  • Selecting "Local Government Records" from the MNHS Catalog Options dropdown menu
  • Entering the following into the "Search For" box:   [name of county] county naturalization (for example: Ramsey County Naturalization)
  • Click the grey search button 
  • Click on a title from the results list to get a detailed catalog record
  • Make a note of the "Minnesota Historical Society State Archives Microfilm Call #" near the top of the detailed catalog record.  It will start with the letters SAM

Viewing the Record on Microfilm

In Person
Next, with the State Archives Microfilm (SAM) call number and reel number(s) in hand, you will head over to the Hubbs Microfilm room.  

The staff will help you locate the reels of film and get you set up on a machine so you can search for the document.  We have microfilm printers and a scanner/printer so that you can make copies.

Through Interlibrary Loan
Contact your local library and make sure that they have a microfilm reader so that you can view the materials when they arrive.  Then, ask to borrow the reels through interlibrary loan.  Depending on your library, there may be a small charge associated with this service.      

Use our Research Service
If you prefer that we do the research for you, you can order copies of naturalization records through our Naturalization Record Request research service.  

Access Links

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

MNHS Reference Staff

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