National Archives at Chicago

Naturalization Records

Naturalization is the process by which an alien becomes an American citizen. These records can provide a researcher with information such as a person's birth date and location, occupation, immigration year, marital status and spouse information, witnesses' names and addresses, and more.

Before September 27, 1906, any "court of record" (municipal, county, state, or federal) could grant U.S. citizenship.  As a general rule, the National Archives does not have naturalization records created in state or local courts. However, a few indexes cover naturalization records filed in county, state, and local courts and may be available as original records or National Archives microfilm publications.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service), 425 I Street NW., Washington, DC 20536, telephone 800-375-5283 has duplicate copies of naturalization petitions created after September 26, 1906 in all Federal, county, and municipal courts. Most inquiries about post-1991 naturalization records must be directed to USCIS as the National Archives generally has such records only through 1991.

Learn more about naturalization records.

From U.S. District Courts (RG 21) in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, held in the National Archives, Chicago

State District City Petition
of Intention
IL Northern Chicago 1872-1991 1872-1991 1872-1991
    Freeport/Rockford 1930-1991 1930-1975 1930-1991
  Central Peoria 1840-1954 1905-1951 1908-1954
    Danville 1840-1950 1906-1951 1906-1962
    Springfield 1906-1952 1903-1981 1856-1984
  Southern East St. Louis 1939-1987 1934-1978 1939-1991
IN Northern Fort Wayne 1930-1984 1898-1983 1930-1984
    Hammond 1907-1985 1906-1984 1907-1985
    Lafayette 1956-1984 1956-1983 1956-1984
    South Bend 1955-1991 1955-1991 1955-1991
  Southern Evansville 1929-1968 1929-1958 1929-1977
    Indianapolis 1907-1991 1906-1990 1907-1991
    Terre Haute ----- 1937-1959 1959-1961
MI Western Marquette 1887-1915
1887-1909 1888-1915
    Grand Rapids 1866-1991 1868-1978 1868-1991
    Kalamazoo 1963-1991 1968-1973 1963-1991
    Lansing Unknown ----- -----
  Eastern Detroit 1837-1991 1856-1989 1837-1991
    Bay City 03/19/1895 ----- 03/19/1895
    Flint 1965-1984 ----- 1965-1984
MN 1st Division Winona ----- 1896-1924 1896-1920
  2nd Division Mankato 1930-1961 1900-1950 1907-1961
  3rd Division St. Paul 1859-1992 1859-1987 1859-1991
  4th Division Minneapolis 1897-1992 1890-1985 1897-1991
  5th Division Duluth 1892-1992 1891-1981 1897-1972
  6th Division Fergus Falls 1890-1959 1890-1990 1897-1988
OH Northern Toledo 1875-1949 1869-1990 1909-1991
    Cleveland 1855-1967 1855-1943 1855-1967
  Southern Cincinnati 1852-1942 1861-1956 1859-1963
    Columbus ----- 1917-1950 1917-1947
    Dayton ----- 1916-1951 1916-1951
WI Western La Crosse ----- 1870-1900 -----
    Madison 1840-1991 1876-1902
    Superior 1910-1918 1902-1921 1910-1955
    Wausau ----- ----- 1954-1955
  Eastern Milwaukee 1840-1990 1848-1991 1848-1991

Dates indicate overall time span of discrete series of U.S. District Court (Federal) naturalization records in our custody. There are some chronological gaps and incomplete files. Occasionally references to Federal court naturalizations preceding the above dates can be found in early 19th century civil and criminal case records. Besides numerically arranged declarations of intention and petitions, other types of often complex naturalization records exist and may be examined in our Textual Research Room. Consult our staff to arrange a future visit. For Federal court records (including indexes) not yet in our custody, contact the Clerk of the Court for that Federal court.

A separate Soundex Naturalization Index in our custody (reproduced as NARA Microfilm Publication M1285) covers naturalizations filed 1871-1950 in Federal courts in Chicago and 1840-1950 in Federal courts in Danville and Peoria, IL; Hammond, IN; and Madison and Milwaukee, WI. These dates (and other available petition index dates) are reflected above. While the Soundex index also covers non-Federal municipal and county courts in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin, we do not have custody of non-Federal court records. For possible assistance with non-Federal court records, contact the appropriate non-Federal court clerk or State archives. Refer to books such as Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States by Christina Schaefer, County Courthouse Book by Elizabeth Petty Bentley, or The Handybook for Genealogists for information about county court records and repositories having custody of them.