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Types of Records
The North Dakota naturalization records span nearly a century of immigration history, so it is inevitable that earlier records are different in appearance and content. This difference, along with the change in county boundaries, causes some difficulty in access. Before 1906, naturalization forms required only the name of the individual requesting citizenship, his country of birth, and the date of the request. After September 1906, the naturalization forms were standardized, printed and distributed to all Clerks of Court. With some exceptions, from that time, naturalization records are uniform and contain birth dates of family members and other information.

The basic process of naturalization is recorded in two sets of documents: the Declaration of Intention and the Naturalization Record. The Declaration of Intention records are often called the "First Papers" and in these the person declared his or her intention to become a U.S. citizen. They usually contain little more than the name of the person and location and date of the declaration. September 1906 saw a basic change and declaration records began to require more detailed information, including some family history.

The Naturalization Records are often called "Second Papers." These records grant U.S. citizenship. The early records contain very little family or personal history of the applicant; often the name of the applicant, country of origin and date of records were the only data supplied. In 1906, the form was changed and became known as the "Petition and Record," which required a greater amount of detailed family and personal history. Despite the change, a few counties used the older forms for a few years.

Knowing the approximate dates of naturalization of the person being researched will determine what information a researcher might expect to find. Before 1906, only the head-of-household was required to become naturalized with the remainder of the family automatically naturalized when he/she received the final papers. This means that wives and children are not listed separately nor were separate records required until the late 1920s when both spouses needed to register. Later, the children required separate records.

Researchers will also need to be aware of the possible variations in spellings of names which may occur from the time of the First Papers and Second Papers to the present.

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