Before 1906, an alien could be naturalized in any court of record. Many immigrants, anxious to become citizens, began the citizenship process by taking out papers in the county where they first arrived in the United States. One might have started the process somewhere on the East Coast, for example, and then completed the requirements in the county or state when final residency was established somewhere else. This presents a challenge for family historians seeking the naturalization records of their ancestors. Fortunately, as more and more of these records are being made available online through collections like those on Ancestry, that search is getting easier. Even where the actual records are not available, indexes can lead us to the actual records.
Naturalization records can be rich in detail, providing the date of immigration and the ship, names, ages, and addresses of family members, birth information, current and past residences, signatures, and affidavits from witnesses.
The collection of naturalization and citizenship records on Ancestry includes indexes, and some indexes are linked to images of the actual records.