Different naturalization processes were in place at different times, with basically three different time periods: pre-1790, 1790-1906, and post-1906. Early Colonials were citizens by virtue of settlement, but later an oath of allegiance was required, with the immigrant's colony holding jurisdiction. Available passenger and immigration lists for this period were indexed and published in book form, and may be now available online. After U. S. independence, naturalization was administered through local courts, requiring the filing of different "papers" and fulfilling a residency requirement. When researching naturalizations for this period it is important to understand that almost any local court from county to federal could administer naturalization; and different papers could be filed in different places, if the immigrant moved. Records for this period may be held by the state and/or the county in which they were filed. After 1906 the federal government began regulating naturalizations in a more formal process; these records are available through the National Archives or one of its online partners.
The U.S. Federal Census for the years 1900-1930 provides information on immigration and naturalization and is a valuable tool for research. A number of naturalization records and resources are available online. Many state and local records are free online or through local repositories, and many are available through various free and subscription websites. And excellent way to surface a large number of these resources at once is through a single Live Roots search, entering the keyword "naturalization" plus your locality of interest. Naturalization records held at the Family History Library (FHL) can also be searched through Live Roots, or through the FHL online catalog, entering the Place (city or county and state) where your ancestor was living at the time he or she was naturalized, and clicking on the "Naturalization & Citizenship" category.
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