5) Court Orders
Naturalizations can be found at the State Archives. I do not believe that the Library of Michigan has many of them. It is possible to e-mail the archives and ask for a copy of ONE naturalization.
The archivist can provide a maximum of 10 minutes of research in responding to your e-mail, letter or telephone request. Please limit each request to one name and one record source.
They need the following information in order for them to process your request. Also, please provide detailed information about the records which you are seeking. Review the Archival Circulars for assistance before submitting a request. If your research involves a topic not mentioned below, be as specific as possible.
The State Archives of Michigan can handle limited e-mail requests at the following Internet address:
Include the following in the body of your message:
2.Your postal mailing address
3.The subject of inquiry
4.Your telephone number (with area code)
5.Your Internet e-mail address
A reference staff member will respond by e-mail. Please allow seven to ten working days for a response.
They need your phone number so the archivist can talk to you directly if there is a question. Your postal mailing address is necessary because the
search is most likely to provide paper copies that will need to be mailed.
If your research question involves a naturalization record, please provide the county in which the person was naturalized, the approximate date of naturalization, and the name(s) of the person with each possible spelling for the name; also, please provide any biographical information such as date of birth, death, approximate arrival in the U.S. (up to 10 years), and names of spouse and children.
The Naturalization Act of 1802 established the three-part naturalization process which remains in effect today. Aliens must declare their intention to become a citizen, observe a required residence period, and then petition an authorized court for admission to citizenship. In character, this process is both judicial (occurring before and by order of a court) and administrative (being under the supervision of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service of the Department of Justice).
Initially, the alien files a “Declaration of Intention” with an authorized court, indicating his or her intention to become a citizen, to renounce all allegiance to any foreign state, and to renounce any foreign title or order of nobility. Then, at least two years after making this declaration (but, after 1906, no more than seven years later), an alien who has been a resident of the United States for at least five years may petition the court for admission to citizenship (since 1941, the requirements to file a Declaration of Intention has been abolished and the residency record shortened for the spouses of citizens). This “Petition” includes both the applicant’s oath and the affidavits of two witnesses who attest to the residency and good character of the petitioner. Finally, if the petition is accepted, the court issues an order admitting the individual to citizenship.
The basic Naturalization Act of 1906 (passed June 29 and effective October 1) established the Immigration and Naturalization Service, more precisely defined administrative procedures, and provided for federal supervision over the naturalization process. Prior to that time, naturalization could occur in any federal court or any state court of record operating only under the very general requirements of federal law. Since October, 1906, uniform and considerably more detailed requirements for naturalization, including the form and contents of related records, have been specified by federal statute and promulgated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Researchers using naturalization records will find relatively few early entries for women. From 1866 until the passage of the Married Woman’s Act in 1922, citizenship was automatically conferred on the wife of any male citizen. Since then, women have been required to be naturalized in their own right.
The “declarations, oaths, and petitions” are mainly loose papers that were filed with the court. As their name implies, the declarations represent a written statement of someone’s desire to become a U.S. citizen. The oaths are statements whereby those intending to become U.S. citizens renounce any allegiance to other countries or sovereigns.
Other oaths are from individuals who swear that they have known the petitioner for a given period of time and can vouch for his or her good character. Finally, the petitions from aspiring citizens are formal requests to be granted status after all have been met. These materials are arranged chronologically. When all of the documents are bound together, they are filed under the most recent date shown.
DECLARATIONS OF INTENTION
Prior to 1907, the “declarations of intention” provide date, name of individual, and country of origin. After 1906, the forms give in addition such facts as age, occupation, race, complexion, height, weight, color of hair and eyes, distinctive marks, date of birth, residence, date and place of embarkation, means of transportation to the U.S., port of arrival, and oath. Alphabetical name indexes are at the front of each volume.
PETITION AND RECORD
Before 1907, the “petition and record” offers only date, name of individual, country of origin, names of witnesses, and oath. After 1906, the forms also provide residence, occupation, date and place of birth, date and place of emigration, means of travel to U.S., date and place of immigration, date and place declaration filed, names of spouse and children, their places of birth and residence, length of time in Michigan, names of witnesses, plus their occupations and residence. Alphabetical name indexes are at the front of each volume.
The court orders are documents prepared twice a year that identify those persons who have qualified for U.S. citizenship. These papers are the judge’s order granting petitions for naturalization, and simply list date and name of individual.
CERTIFICATES OF NATURALIZATION
Certificates of naturalization give number, name, age, date, place and date where declaration of intention filed, date and place where petition filed, date and place where order filed, and residence of each.
Records are organized by county. Generally speaking, declarations, oaths, and petitions, along with court orders, and certificates of naturalization are organized chronologically while declarations of intention and petitions and records are arranged alphabetically by surname. Available indices vary by county.