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September 12, 2004

Using Census Records to Find Immigration Dates

Copyright Lorine McGinnis Schulze

Have you found your ancestor in census records after his arrival?

The 1900, 1910 ,1920 and 1930 census identify citizenship status, with notations showing the individual was an Alien, or had started the Naturalization process or had his final papers. They also give the year of immigration.

As well, 1920 gives the year of naturalization. What great clues to help narrow the time frame for finding ship passenger and naturalization records!

There are great clues in the 1870 census too! If your ancestor has a check mark in the column "Male Citizens of the United States of twenty-one years of age and upwards" you have a clue that naturalization took place before 1870

You can read more about the value of census records in your search for an immigrant ancestor at

Finding an immigration year from the census would be Step One.

Step 2 would be finding naturalization records. See for further help, and for links to online databases.

Step 3 is finding that ships list. Once you know your ancestor's state of entry, you can search microfilms. Most states are indexed, so this will make
your job slightly easier. You can order films in to a nearby Family History Centre, or have NARA do the job (once you have precise details)

Ycan get a list of film numbers (NARA & FHC) at

Scroll down to the state you want and click on the link, then find the film # you need

The staff of the National Archives will undertake a search of the original records for a fee but you must know the name of the ship, the date of arrival, and the port of arrival.

September 9, 2004

Declarations of Intent, New York 1843-1850

Naturalization is the process by which an alien becomes an American citizen.

Naturalization Records are very important to your genealogical research. They can help you find the date, ship, and port of arrival, and the place of birth for your ancestor.

How much information is found on them will depend on when the naturalization was done. The naturalization process did not have to happen in one court, or in one state. It was not mandatory and not all aliens became citizens, and not all completed the process once they started it.

Before 1906, the declaration of intent generally contains more genealogically useful information than the petition. Petitions before 1906 usually show only a name, former allegiance, and date of naturalization. The declaration may include the alien's exact date of immigration into the United States.

In general, after living in the United States for 2 years, an alien could file a Declaration of Intent (also called First Papers) to become a citizen.

The entire index to Books 7 & 8 APRIL 1843-MAY 1850 for Declarations of Intent, New York 1827-1895 is now online at

These are from the Justice's Court, Albany, New York. To go directly to the start of this index to Declarations of Intent, start at

There are 7 reels of microfilm containing the Declarations of Intent. What Olive Tree Genealogy volunteers have typed up is an index to those Declarations, with page numbers to help you find the original. Instructions for viewing the original Declarations are given online

To see the list of free online databases for New York Naturalization Records, start at