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Naturalization Process

Naturalization Records

The Naturalization process has two steps:
  1. Declaration of Intent or "First Papers"
  2. Petition, Oath of Allegiance and Certificate of Naturalization
    known as "Second Papers" or "Final Papers"

The Cass County Genealogical Society has digital and microfilmed naturalization records for Cass County District Court (format dependent upon the year).

Family History Library microfilm/digital resources:     1) Records 1870-1928 - Film/DGS 1548713, 1548714;    2) Index 1877-1929 - Film/DGS 1561779.

Naturalization Law Summary

1790Two year residency in the U.S. required for citizenship and one year in the state. Must be of good character. Performed in court of record.
1795Three residency requirement added to file a Declaration of Intent and five year residency requirement added to file Final Papers. Must renounce foreign allegiance and titles of nobility. Derivative citizenship provided for wives and minor children.
1804Widows and children of an alien who died before filing Final Papers are granted citizenship.
1824Residency time period required between Declaration of Intent and Final Papers shortened to 2 years.
1855Alien female marrying a U.S. citizen automatically naturalized. Repealed in 1922.
1862Aliens over age 21 who served in the Army could become citizens after 1 year of residency.
1868African Americans became citizens via 14th Amendment.
1872Alien seaman serving 3 years on U.S. merchant vessel can be naturalized without fulfilling a residency requirement.
1882Chinese excluded from citizenship. Repealed in 1943.
1891Polygamists and persons convicted of certain crimes or carrying certain diseases excluded from citizenship.
1894Aliens serving in the Navy or Marine Corps could be naturalized under same conditions as 1862 law for the Army.
1906Alien registration was required. Residency requirements changed to 2 years to file Declaration of Intent and 5 years to file Final Papers.
1907Female U.S. citizen who married an alien lost her U.S. citizenship and took the nationality of her husband. Repealed in 1922, but citizenship not restored until 1936.
1918Aliens serving in U.S. forces during WWI can be naturalized without any residency requirement.
1922Females 21 years of age and over entitled to citizenship. Derivative citizenship discontinued. Residency requirement to file Declaration of Intent discontinued.
1924All non-citizen Indians born within U.S. become citizens of the U.S., including those living on tribal reservations (considered "separate nation" prior to this time).
1940Alien Registration Act requires registration and fingerprinting at local post office within 30 days of arrival.

Source: Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States by Christina K. Schaefer, Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009.

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