Source Information

Ancestry.com. Utah, Naturalization and Citizenship Records, 1858-1959 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data:

Utah Naturalization and Citizenship Records. Microfilm, 70 rolls. Utah State Archives and Records Service, Salt Lake City, Utah.

About Utah, Naturalization and Citizenship Records, 1858-1959

This database contains naturalization and citizenship records submitted to, or created by, Utah courts for the years 1850 through 1960.

Introduction to Naturalization Records:

The act and procedure of becoming a citizen of a country is called naturalization. In the U.S., naturalization is a judicial procedure that flows from Congressional legislation. However, from the time the first naturalization act was passed in 1790 until 1906, there were no uniform standards for naturalization records. As a consequence, before September 1906, various federal, state, county, and local courts generated a wide variety of citizenship records that are stored in sundry courts, archives, warehouses, libraries, and private collections. After 1906 the vast majority of naturalizations took place in federal courts.

Naturalization laws have changed over the years. These acts are important to understand because they impact when your ancestor was able to become naturalized, as well as the exact process he or she had to go through to become a citizen. For example, some naturalization acts required residency in the U.S. for a certain number of years, some excluded people of certain ethnicities from being able to become citizens, and others granted citizenship status in exchange for military service.

The Naturalization Process:

The first responsibility for an immigrant wishing to become an official U.S. citizen was to complete a Declaration of Intention. These papers are sometimes called First Papers since they are the first forms to be completed in the naturalization process. Generally, these papers were filled out fairly soon after an immigrant's arrival in America, though there were times when certain groups of individuals were exempt from this step, such as aliens enlisting for military service for the United States during World War I.

After the immigrant had completed these papers and met the residency requirement (which was usually five years), the individual was able to submit a Petition for Naturalization. Petitions are also known as Second or Final Papers because they are the second and final set of papers completed in the naturalization process.

Immigrants also took a naturalization oath or oath of allegiance. A copy of this oath is often filed with the immigrant's First or Second Papers. After an immigrant had completed all citizenship requirements he was issued a certificate of naturalization. Many of these documents can be found in the records of the court in which they were created. Other naturalization records include naturalization certificate stubs and certificates of arrival.

Many immigrants took out their First Papers as soon as they arrived in America, in whatever county and state that may have been. Later they would file their Second Papers in the location where they took up residence.

What’s Included in this Database?

This database contains images of original naturalization records from Utah courts. Most are Declarations of Intent, though the collection does include some Petitions for Naturalization and certificates of citizenship as well.

The amount of information contained on each naturalization document varies widely according to time and place.

Generally speaking, most pre-1906 naturalization papers contain little information of biographical or genealogical value. In the absence of standardized naturalization forms, federal, state, county, and other minor courts of record created their own naturalization documents, which varied greatly in format. There are, however, wonderful exceptions, so it is worth looking for pre-1906 naturalizations.

Records created after 1906 usually contain significant genealogical information and are often worth the search to locate them.

Early Declarations of Intention might include

  • name
  • nationality (through renunciation of allegiance)
  • event date and place

Post-1906 Declarations of Intention can include

  • name
  • age
  • date of birth
  • place of birth/nationality
  • gender
  • physical description
  • spouse’s name
  • spouse’s birthplace
  • children (names, birth dates, birthplaces)
  • occupation
  • former residence
  • address/residence
  • ship/vessel name
  • port of arrival
  • date of arrival
  • event date

Petitions for Naturalization can list

  • name
  • age
  • date of birth
  • place of birth
  • gender
  • physical description
  • spouse’s name
  • children (names, birth dates, birthplaces)
  • occupation
  • former residence
  • address/residence
  • ship/vessel name
  • port of arrival
  • date of arrival
  • date of declaration
  • event date
  • witnesses

Certificate of Citizenship

  • name
  • date
  • place

The Utah State Archives notes that “if an individual had completed either part or all of this process in Utah, there are many courts to check prior to statehood (1896). Each county had a County Probate Court until 1896. There are also District Courts which served multiple counties. Furthermore, district court boundaries changed over time … so you may need to check the records of several district courts. … If you know where an individual lived, it is possible that he filed in the most geographically convenient court, but remember that there was no legal requirement to do so.”

Much of the above information was adapted from Lorretto D. Szucs. They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins (Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry, Inc., 1998).

To learn more about naturalization records and how to research them, please consult this book.