Declarations and Naturalizations - St. Clair County, Illinois
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Declarations and Naturalizations - St. Clair County, Illinois

The Process, Extant Papers and Records, and Hints for Locating Your Ancestor

©Diane Renner Walsh

THE PROCESS
Naturalization was, and still is, a voluntary act. Usually, naturalization was a three-step process. 1. Declaration of Intent filed. 2. Petition for Naturalization filed. 3. Oath taken. Upon meeting residency requirements, an ancestor may have filed the Declaration of Intent (First papers) in one court, and subsequently file a Petition for Naturalization / Citizenship (Second papers) in a different court, sometimes in a different state. Sometimes a person only filed a Declaration and failed to complete the process.

Naturalization-related documents could be filed in any court that retained a written record at the municipal, county, state, or federal level. These variables make finding the documents difficult. During some wars, the Declaration step was waved in return for military service with honorable discharge. Derivative citizenship was granted for women and children when the husband or father completed all the steps. Consequently, documents for women are rarely found before 1922 when the law changed. Children, upon reaching adulthood, might later file a minor's petition for naturalization. If a name change took place during the process, this change will usually be noted on the Petition.

More detailed explanations and a reading list.

Naturalization-related documents, indexes, and record books for St. Clair County are at several locations in manuscript or microfilm form. No one location has all the various papers or records.

PAPERS v. RECORDS

Papers refer to documents filed in court. Today these papers may be in manuscript or microfilm form.
Record usually refers to the court's record book. The Court Record is usually limited to a name, number, and date.

In general, Declaration of Intent Papers and Petition to Naturalize Papers BEFORE 1906 include little genealogical information. No ship name or arrival date, no names of family other than the applicant, no town of birth in the old country.

Papers AFTER 1906 provide a wealth of genealogical information, although the extent may vary by document or time period. When possible, obtain both the Declaration of Intent Paper, and the Petition to Naturalize Paper. The Declaration or Petition after 1906 may include the ship name, date of arrival, town and date of birth, and names of wife and children or siblings. It was in 1906 that the federal government standardized the naturalization process and documentation. Today, the Immigration and Naturalization Service handles the entire path toward citizenship.

Circuit Court 1816 – 1906East St. Louis City Court 1874 – 1906County Court 1864–1906
Circuit Court 1906 – circa 1957East St. Louis City Court 1906 – circa 1950U. S. District Court 1906 to present

Know Your Ancestor's Year of Naturalization Before You Begin – Jump to Hints

COUNTY COURT DECLARATIONS AND NATURALIZATIONS 1864 – 1906

CIRCUIT COURT DECLARATIONS AND NATURALIZATIONS 1816 – 1905

EAST ST. LOUIS CITY COURT DECLARATIONS AND NATURALIZATIONS 1874 – 1906

View an East St. Louis City Court Declaration 1890 for Mr. Adelé jpg | jpg | .pdf 516KB
View an East St. Louis City Court Minor's Petition and Oath of Naturalization 1903 for Mr. Abbott jpg | .pdf 501KB
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  • East St. Louis City Court Naturalization Record 1876 – 1899, and the East St. Louis City Court Declaration Record 1876 – 1899. These books are on microfilm at IRAD in Carbondale. These Record books include only the number, name, court term, and year of declaration or naturalization.

    The Office of the Circuit Clerk at the courthouse in Belleville also maintains a set of microfilm. See reel 9 sequences 200001 and 200002. The microfilm reels may be searched on site. Microfilm in this Office cover other years before 1906 but all are cumbersome to use because finding aids do not specify the court's name for each record set. Check with the Circuit Clerk office for access since may change over the years.


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    Naturalization-related Papers and Record Books after 1906

    CERTIFICATE of ARRIVAL Required after 29 June 1906

    A "Certificate Of Arrival" generated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) may be among naturalization documents. Aliens who arrived in the U.S. after 29 June 1906 were subject to this additional naturalization step which required their immigration record be verified. All certificates are typewritten, not all certificates of arrival were preserved by all courts.

    The title of the document has frequently led to misunderstanding, causing some to state that certificates of arrival were issued to immigrants upon their arrival in the U.S. This was not the case. This, and the following from Loretto Szucs and Sandra Luebking, editors, The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, 3rd ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2006), p. 403.

    View a Certificate of Arrival for Charles Goldberg, whose name upon arrival, was Schaje Goldberg.

    CIRCUIT COURT DECLARATIONS, PETITIONS, AND FINAL OATH 1906 – circa 1957

    EAST ST. LOUIS CITY COURT DECLARATIONS AND NATURALIZATIONS AFTER 1906

    U.S. DISTRICT COURT DECLARATIONS AND NATURALIZATIONS AFTER 1906

    1906 to 1944

    1944 to Present

    HINTS FOR LOCATING YOUR ANCESTOR'S YEAR OF IMMIGRATION
    AND OTHER RECORD GROUPS THAT MAY INCLUDE NATURALIZATION PAPERS

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    1. Determine your ancestor's place of residency during the time he would have filed a declaration or petition.

    2. Determine the year of naturalization using other source documents and files.

    For further reading see:


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    © 2001, SCCGS
    St. Clair County (Illinois) Genealogical Society
    P.O. Box 431
    Belleville, Illinois 62222-0431
    Updated 9 August 2013