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According to the U.S. National Archives (NARA):
On March 26, 1790, Congress passed an act (1 Stat. 103) that
allowed any individual seeking citizenship to apply to any court of record
in a state where he or she lived for one year. Before September 27,
1906, an alien could seek citizenship through any Federal, state, or local
court. As a result, you need to know to which court your ancestor
submitted the application for naturalization. Congress passed an act on
June 29, 1906, which established a Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization
(32 Stat. 596). The bureau was to "provide for a uniform rule for the naturalization
of aliens throughout the United States."
Various local and federal courts processed naturalization
requests in California from 1850 to the present. These included County
Superior Courts, State Circuit and District Courts, Supreme Courts, and
U.S. Circuit and District Courts. For a good introduction to which federal
courts processed naturalization records in California, take a look at the
Archives M1744 Pamphlet.
According to NARA:
Note: there is a companion National Archives
microfilm index to the M1744 microfilm:
T1220, Selected Indexes to Naturalization Records
of the U.S. Circuit and District Courts, Northern District of California,
Records of naturalization proceedings
in Federal courts are usually among the records of the U.S. District Court
in which the proceedings took place. These records may still be in
the custody of the court, or they may have been transferred to one of NARA's
regional archives as a part of the Records of the District Courts of the
A list of which naturalization records are available
from local California counties in the California State Archives
can be viewed here.
These California naturalization records are available
at the NARA Pacific Region facility:
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
(San Francisco), 1851-1971
U.S. Circuit Court, Northern District of California
(San Francisco), 1855-1911
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California
County Superior Court, Marin County, California,
FamilySearch has the following available online:
A great resource for locating which court an ancestor
was naturalized are the Great Registers. These were the voting registers
for California, and will often tell you the exact name and location of
the court that did the naturalization as well as the naturalization date.
The NARA also has an interesting article about
and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940.
For those individuals processed in the federal
courts, the records may be available at the National
Archives (NARA) center in San Bruno, California. The records cover
from 1852 to 1989.
If you are looking for naturalization records after
1989, contact the U.S.
More information about what is available at the San
Bruno NARA, look at
of the District Courts of the United States (RG 21).
For a good, though slightly out-of-date, article
about federal records, please refer to: Naturalization
Documents at the National Archives-Pacific Region (San Bruno) by
and Dan Nealand
If you believe your ancestor was naturalized in a
court in California, you may wish to request a copy of the documents
from the archives by mail. Write to the following address:
Attention: Historical Naturalizations
National Archives and Records Administration
Pacific Region-San Francisco
1000 Commodore Drive
San Bruno CA 94066
According to the National Archives, as of
"You may send your written request in three different
ways, by mail, fax or email. When you send your request, please be sure
to write down the complete name of the person you are requesting, the approximate
date of the naturalization if you don't have the exact date, the place
and name of the court where the person's naturalization took place.
"If the requested record was found, a minimum
fee for mail reproduction applies. Copies of the records if no more than
20 pages is $10.00 made by check or money order payable to the 'National
Archives Trust Fund'. You may also use an American Express, Discover, Master
Card, or Visa credit card by providing the type of the credit card, account
number and the expiration date and card holder signature."
The U.S. District Court (USDC), San Francisco, also
has a copy of the M1744 microfilm collection. See contact info below.
Office of the Clerk
U.S. District Court
Northern District of California
P.O. Box 36060
San Francisco, CA 94102
Francisco Restoration of Record of Naturalization
Records for those processed in the San Francisco
Superior court before 1906 were lost in the 1906 disaster. After
the disaster, the Superior Court of the State of California, in
and for the City and County of San Francisco began to "restore" records.
Approximately 10,752 records were gathered from 25 May 1906 through 23
September 1964. The records (declaration of intent, petition, certificate
and supporting documentation) have not been microfilmed yet and are available
through the Superior Court.
The Record of Naturalization only includes
this information: Name, initial date of naturalization, date of restoration,
country of nativity, and two witness names.
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