Naturalization records document the official immigration of people from other countries to the United States. Historically, Oregon naturalization records were created by a court in the county where the documents were filed. These records usually are found at the State Archives or with the county clerk or trial court administrator for that county.
Typically, county courts and circuit courts heard naturalization cases in the 1800s and much of the 1900s. Modern naturalization proceedings are conducted exclusively in federal courts. Key historical records include county court journals, county court case files, circuit court journals, circuit court case files, probate records and clerk's miscellaneous records.
Extensive research may be necessary to locate naturalization documentation interspersed within these records. For example, county court journals often document numerous judicial actions and may include only a page here and there related to naturalization. In most cases, indexes can speed the search.
Common Types of Naturalization Records
Certificate of Arrival
No alien who arrived in the United States after June 29, 1906, could make a valid Declaration of Intention until it was established that his entry was lawful and that he was admitted for permanent residence. If the alien established that his entry was lawful, then a Certificate of Arrival was issued. This Certificate showed the date, place and manner of the aliens' arrival. Any alien who established that he entered the United States on or before June 29, 1906 could file a Declaration of Intention without the issuance of a Certificate of Arrival. In Oregon, this certificate is part of the Declaration of Intention.
Declaration of Intention
Any person 18 years of age or over who was lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence could file a Declaration of Intention in the office of any clerk of court having charge of naturalization. No period of residence in the United States was required before filing a Declaration of Intention. This form was initially issued by the United States Department of Commerce; and after 1926, it was issued by the United States Department of Labor (Form 2202).
The form was also used for and titled Certificate of Arrival. It carries the following information:
- Color of hair
- Color of eyes
- Distinctive marks
- Place and date of birth
- Current residence
- Port of departure and vessel
- Last foreign residence
- Port and date of arrival in the United States
- Date of declaration
Petition for Naturalization (Petition for Citizenship)
When the Declaration of Intention was at least two years old and not more than seven years old, and the applicant had lived in the United States, its territory, or the District of Columbia for five years continuously, with the previous six months in a particular state, then the alien could file a Petition for Naturalization.
A hearing was then held to determine if all documents were in order and if educational and other requirements had been met. Two witnesses were required to support the petition. The witnesses had to be United States citizens over 21 years of age. They had to testify to the applicant's good moral character for the past sixth month period. In addition, witnesses were required to support the fact that the applicant had been a United States resident for the preceding five years.
Before 1938, this form was titled "Petition for Citizenship." After 1938, this form was entitled "Petition for Naturalization." The documents usually contain the following information:
- Date and place of birth
- Date and port of departure
- Name of transport
- Date and port of arrival
- Date and place of declaration of intent and affidavits of witnesses
After about 1915, this record also included name, date and place of birth and residence of wife and minor children.
Oath of Allegiance
If the court was satisfied that all requirements of the law had been satisfied, the alien could take the Oath of Allegiance. This required the applicant to swear to defend the United States and be loyal. The alien had to give up all allegiance to his former country and to also give up any titles of nobility.
Record of Naturalization (Certificate of Citizenship)
This record was created during the years ca. 1867-1941. It contained the following information: name, date, term of court, name of naturalized aliens and their former nationality.
Certificate of Naturalization (Stubs)
This type of record appears to have been created during the period ca. 1907-1929. The series contained the following information: name, age, record of declaration of intent, record of petition, name of wife and minor children.
Petition and Record (of Citizenship or Naturalization)
This series title contains a combination of the Petition for Naturalization (Form 2204), the Declaration of Intention (Form 2203), and usually a copy of the Certificate of Arrival.
View the naturalization records listings.