Research: Tools:

Naturalization Pathfinder

Naturalization is the act of granting the full legal rights and privileges possessed by native-born individuals to someone born in another country. Legal jurisdiction over naturalization has changed repeatedly since the colonial period and records documenting the process are found in various locations.  Knowing approximately when the naturalization took place is one key to locating records.  In some cases, knowing the likely location where the naturalization took place is also very helpful.

This pathfinder will direct you to the best sources for records of naturalizations that took place in New York from the British colonial period to the present. Follow the timeline to the era in which you believe the naturalization in which you are interested may have taken place.

Naturalization records in New York Colony and New York State from 1664 - Present
Between 1664 and 1777 in New York Colony

Until 1708, denization was employed in New York to grant foreign-born persons (aliens) some, but not all rights of native-born individuals. See Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda comps., Denizations, Naturalizations, and Oaths of Allegiance in Colonial New York (Baltimore: 1975). Widely available in public and university libraries in the U.S., this book contains data abstracted from various archival and published sources, including two record series in the New York State Archives: Record of Deeds (series A0453) and Letters Patent (series 12943). The citation from Scott is required in order to access records in these series.

Colonial laws naturalizing aliens, either collectively (1683, 1715) or individually (1718 and after) are found in Colonial Laws of New York, 5 vols. (Albany: 1894). This publication is widely available in public and university libraries in the U.S. Relevant laws are indexed in Scott et. al., Denizations, Naturalizations, and Oaths of Allegiance in Colonial New York Colonial New York.

Between 1777 and 1790 in New York State

A small number of legislative acts of naturalization can be found in Laws of the State of New York [1777-1800], 4 vols. (Albany: 1886-87). This publication is widely available in public and university libraries in the U.S. No unified name index exists.

Between 1790 and 1906 in New York State

Since implementation of the U.S. Constitution in 1789 and passage of the first federal naturalization law (1790), naturalizations have been performed in both federal courts and state courts (acting as agents of the federal government). Records of naturalizations performed in all state courts (except for the Supreme Court and the Court of Chancery before July 1, 1847) are filed in the county clerk’s office in the county where the court was located. Although no statewide index to records in county clerks' offices exists, several county clerks' offices have posted online indexes to naturalization records in their own possession. For an online directory of county websites, visit the NYS Association of Counties website.

*See Naturalization Records in the NYS Archives below for information regarding fragmentary naturalization records from the Supreme Court and Court of Chancery prior to 1847.

The National Archives at New York City holds petitions for and records of naturalization filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York (Buffalo) during the period 1903-1966 AND petitions for and records of naturalization filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York (Utica) during the period 1821-1855, 1906. Indexes to both are available. Contact:

National Archives at New York City
One Bowling Green, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10004
Toll-free 866-840-1752
Email: newyork.archives@nara.gov

Indexes to certain records are available online for free or through subscription.

Between 1792 and 1906 in New York City Only

The National Archives at New York City holds petitions for and records of naturalization filed in federal, state, and local courts located within the boundaries of the present five boroughs.  A soundex index is available on microfilm. Contact:

National Archives at New York City
One Bowling Green, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10004
Toll-free 866-840-1752
Email: newyork.archives@nara.gov.

Indexes to certain records are available online for free or through subscription.

...After September 26, 1906 in New York State

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service), now a bureau within the Department of Homeland Security, holds duplicate copies of naturalization documents. Contact:

USCIS
425 I ("Eye") Street, NW
Washington, DC 20536
Email: Immigration.Reply@dhs.gov

Records of most naturalizations performed after this date are also found in the county clerks' offices (if done in state court) or at the National Archives at New York City (if done in federal court).

Although no statewide index to records in county clerks' offices exists, several county clerks' offices have posted online indexes to naturalization records in their own possession. For an online directory of county websites, visit the NYS Association of Counties website.

Indexes to certain records at the National Archives at New York City are available online for free or through subscription.

Or contact:

National Archives at New York City
One Bowling Green, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10004
Toll-free 866-840-1752
Email: newyork.archives@nara.gov

New York Naturalization Records Microfilmed and Digitized by FamilySearch

FamilySearch (formerly Genealogical Society of Utah) has microfilmed many older New York naturalization records in custody of county clerks’ offices and the National Archives-New York City. Most of these records pre-date the mid-twentieth century. Available microfilm is listed in FamilySearch’s Family History Library Catalog. Microfilm may be examined at the FamilySearch Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and may also be accessed through a worldwide network of FamilySearch centers. For help in locating the FamilySearch center nearest you, visit the Family History Center webpage.

FamilySearch has also digitized most microfilmed New York naturalization records. Images may be searched or browsed by visiting the FamilySearch website.

Today in New York State

Almost all naturalizations are currently performed in the U.S. District Courts.  Records of these recent naturalizations are in custody of the U.S. District Court clerks. To find a federal district court and for current contact information, visit the Federal Judiciary website.

The New York State Archives holds only a few hundred naturalization documents, all relating to naturalizations performed by higher state courts operating before 1847. The records are not indexed, and Archives staff will not search them for individual names unless the full name, and the date, place, and court of naturalization is provided. Records are found in three series:

  • J1061 Naturalization papers, ca. 1830-1847. Court of Chancery (5th, 6th, and 8th Circuits comprising portions of central and western New York State). 1 cubic foot. Arranged by circuit, then alphabetical by surname.
  • J9013 Naturalization papers, 1822-1839, bulk 1822, 1838-1839. Supreme Court of Judicature (Utica). 0.2 cubic feet. Alphabetical by surname of petitioner. Most documents relate to the naturalization of aliens from Oneida County.
  • J5011 Naturalization papers, 1799-1812. Supreme Court of Judicature (Albany). 0.2 cubic feet (1 box). Alphabetical by surname of petitioner. Most documents relate to the naturalization of aliens from Albany County.
For further information regarding naturalization in New York State and a complete description of available records, see New York State Archives Information Leaflet #6, Naturalization and Related Records.