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Citizenship-related Reference Reports

The National Archives holds records pertaining to various aspects of U.S. citizenship. Since 1790, naturalization records have documented the process by which foreign-born persons (aliens) became American citizens, while passports, protection certificates, and other maritime records were used by U.S. citizens and merchant seaman to verify and safeguard their American nationality while traveling abroad. During the Civil War, both the Federal Government and the Confederate States government compiled records relating to Southern civilians, or Confederate citizens, including amnesty records to restore U.S. citizenship to former Confederates once the war was over.

Citizenship Reference Reports describe research strategies using Federal naturalization records, State Department passport applications, and seamen’s protection certificates and vessel crew lists from the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The reports also cover more specialized topics, such as U.S. citizens who died overseas, as well as certain rights and activities enjoyed by U.S. citizens, such as submitting private claims to Congress and the Southern Claims Commission, participating in New Deal public relief programs during the Great Depression, and attending significant national events such as the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876.

Click on the title to view a PDF version of the reference report. For additional topics, please see Immigrant Records at the National Archives.