Naturalization Records for Immigration and Family History
Ada County Naturalization Record, 1896
Photo Credit: Idaho State Archives
Naturalization records are a rich source of immigration and family history information. They can provide names of family members, indicate where a family came from, and give important dates and locations. The naturalization process was conducted over a number of years and required differing paperwork at each step of the process. Various forms contain different bits of information; taken as a whole, they provide important clues about an individual or family.
The naturalization process was first implemented in the United States in 1790 and has seen many changes over the years. In Idaho, beginning in 1863, the process of naturalization generally began when the applicant filed a declaration of intention with the local court of record (federal, state, or local), followed by a naturalization petition, and ended when a certificate or record of naturalization was issued. Each step required a period of residency, although that residency didn't have to take place in the same location throughout.
Many exceptions to the process existed. For example, honorable discharge from military service could lead to expedited citizenship. Minor children automatically became citizens when their parents naturalized. Prior to 1922, a woman automatically became a citizen when she married a citizen or when her husband naturalized. Former slaves and American Indians were made citizens by federal law.
Prior to 1906, the forms used for the naturalization process varied from state to state and even county to county, leading to inconsistency in the information gathered. The Basic Naturalization Act of 1906 imposed standardization on the process and, happily for researchers, also provided for the gathering of more biographical information about applicants.
The Idaho State Archives holds a rich collection of naturalization records, primarily from various counties, although some state-level records can be found as well. Selected records from Ada, Alturas, Bingham, Boise, Canyon, Clearwater, Elmore, Idaho, Nez Perce, Oneida, Teton, and Twin Falls counties, and the Idaho Supreme Court have been indexed where the Idaho State Archives holds the original paper record.
Some naturalization records have been microfilmed by the Utah Genealogical Society and can be found with the State Archives county microfilm collections, as well as the Family History Library system maintained by the LDS Church.
If you find a name on the list and would like a copy of the original record, please contact the State Archives to learn more about our research services.
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