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Immigration & Naturalization Records
Immigration and Passenger Lists
Finding the arrival record of the immigrant ancestor is one of the more rewarding pursuits in family history research. It not only gives tangible evidence of the family’s arrival in the United States or Canada, but can also lead to fruitful research in records from the native country.
Researchers may wish to search in ANSWER, the Archives’ online catalog available at answercat.org. A keyword search using the phrase “index passenger lists” or “baltimore passenger” will yield the most number of relevant hits. Please contact the Archives for more information or assistance with accessing these records.
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Anuta, Michael J. Ships of Our Ancestors.Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993./VM 381 .A58 1993/
Baca, Leo. Czech Immigration Passenger Lists. 9 vols. Halletsville, TX: Old Homestead Pub. Co., 1983-/E 184 .B67 B32 1983/
Boyer, Carl, III, ed. Ship Passenger Lists. 4 vols. Newhall, CA: C. Boyer, 1977./CS 68 .S53/
Colletta, John Philip. They Came In Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor’s Arrival Record. 3rd ed. Provo, UT: Ancestry, 2002./CS 49 .C63 2002/
Filby, P. William. Passenger and Immigration Lists Bibliography, 1538-1900: Being a Guide to Published Lists of Arrivals in the United States and Canada. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1988./Z 5313 .U5 P38 1988/
, and Mary K. Meyer, eds. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index: A Guide to Published Arrival Records of About 500,000 Passengers Who Came to the United States and Canada in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Centuries. 3 vols. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1981./CS 68 .P363/
Known as the “Filby Index,” this is the first of several cumulative sets of alphabetically arranged indexes, listing over two million surnames.
Glazier, Ira A., ed. Emigration from the United Kingdom to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2006-./E 184 .B7 E45 2006/
. The Famine Immigrants: Lists of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York, 1846-1851. 7 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983./E 184 .I6 F25 1983/
. Migration from the Russian Empire: Lists of Passengers Arriving at the Port of New York. 6 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1995./E 184 .R9 M54 1995/
, and P. William Filby, eds. Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports. 67 vols. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1988-2002./E 184 .G3 G38/
This set covers 1850 to 1897. Be sure to look at Series II, too, which covers 1840 to 1849.
. Italians to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1880-1899. 26 vols. to date. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1992-2002./E 184 .I8 I844 1992/
Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals for the Years 1890 to 1930 at the Port of New York and for the Years 1904 to 1926 at the Ports of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Baltimore. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1987./HE 945 .A2 D5 1987/
Passenger Lists: Holland-America Line, 1900-1940. 1053 microfiche. Lisse: MMF Publications, 1994./Microfiche CS 68 .P373 1994/
Rasmussen, Louis J. San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists. 4 vols. Colma, CA: San Francisco Historic Record and Genealogy Bulletin, c1965./HE 601 .U5 R3/
Swierenga, Robert P. Dutch Immigrants in U.S. Ship Passenger Manifests, 1820-1880. 2 vols. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1983.
E 184 .D9 S95 1983
Tepper, Michael. American Passenger Arrival Records: A Guide to the Records of Immigrants Arriving at American Ports by Sail and Steam. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1993./CS 49 .T46 1993/
, ed. Passengers to America: A Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists from the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1977./CS 68 .P37 1977/
United States. National Archives and Records Administration. Immigrant and Passenger Arrivals: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: National Archives Trust Fund Board, 1991./Z 5305 .U5 U54 1991/
. Registers of Vessels Arriving at the Port of New York from Foreign Ports, 1789-1919. 27 reels. Washington, D.C.: General Records Administration, 1980./Microfilm F 128.25 .R44 1789/
Wittke, Carl. We Who Built America: The Saga of the Immigrant. Cleveland, OH: Western Reserve University, 1964./JV 6455 .W55 1964/
Zaleski, Jan Steven. Guide to Records of Border Crossings Between the United States and Canada, 1895-1954. Detroit: J.S. Zaleski, 1993./JV 6654 .Z3 1993/
Zimmerman, Gary J., and Marion Wolfert, comp. German Immigrants: Lists of Passengers Bound From Bremen to New York, With Places of Origin. 4 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1985-1993./E 184 .G3 Z56 1985/
American Family Immigration History Center (Ellis Island)
Free records and index to the nearly 24 million passengers that came through Ellis Island from 1892-1924.
Available at the Archives of Michigan, this outstanding subscription database contains indexes and images of U.S. & Canadian passenger lists and much more.
Free index to the more than 10 million immigrants to New York from 1830 to 1892.
Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
An ongoing volunteer project offering transcribed passenger lists.
Immigration & Citizenship: Canadian Genealogy Centre
Outstanding web site from the Library and Archives of Canada that details the availability of Canadian arrival records, with links to digitized manifests.
An online guide to interpreting passenger list annotations.
One-Step Webpages by Stephen Morse
One-step research guides offer an alternative to the Ellis Island and Castle Garden sites.
Naturalization, the legal procedure of an immigrant becoming a citizen, can offer the family history researcher critical clues and key information on an ancestor’s life in the native country. Depending on the time period, these records can reveal the immigrant’s exact place of birth, date and port of arrival in the United States, and detailed information on a spouse and children. With the changes in the U.S. federal naturalization laws, however, records created before 1906 will not be as genealogically significant as those filed after. Remember, too, that not all immigrants chose to become U.S. citizens.
The Archives of Michigan holds naturalization records from the Michigan counties listed below. Counties with online indexes are indicated in the table and can be view on our website on our Index page. Indexes for other counties may be available in the Archives of Michigan reading room.
County Circuit Courts
|County||Inclusive Dates||Record Group||Online Index|
Note that an ancestor could have filed papers in different federal, county, or local courts through the process of naturalization. Naturalization papers filed in Michigan can be found in federal district courts, county circuit courts, or in Detroit’s case, the Detroit Recorder’s Court. Researchers should therefore be prepared to look in several places or courts to find an ancestor’s naturalization record.
U.S. District Court
The National Archives Great Lakes Regional Branch in Chicago holds the following records from U.S. District Courts in Michigan. Citations from the ancestry.com naturalization indexes refer to these federal records and, therefore, are not available at the Archives of Michigan.
Detroit (Eastern District)
Declarations of Intention: 1865–1989
Flint (Eastern District)
Marquette (Western District)
Declarations of Intention: 1887–1909
Grand Rapids (Western District)
Declarations of Intention: 1868–1978
The National Archives Regional Branch in Chicago can be found online at: archives.gov/chicago.
Detroit Recorder’s Court
Records of the Detroit Recorder’s Court from 1852-1906 can be found at the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library: detroit.lib.mi.us/featuredcollection/burton-historical-collection.
Information Found in Naturalization Records
Declarations of Intention
As their name implies, declarations of intention are written statements of someone’s desire to become a U.S. citizen. Prior to 1907, information listed on declarations of intention was limited to date, name of individual, and country of origin. After 1906, the forms give much more information, including age, occupation, race, complexion, height, weight, color of hair and eyes, distinctive marks, date of birth, residence, date and place of departure, means of transportation to the U.S., port of arrival, and oath. Alphabetical name indexes are at the front of each volume.
Petitions and Records
Petitions from aspiring citizens are formal requests to be granted citizenship after all requirements have been met. Before 1907, the petition and record offers only date, name of individual, country of origin, names of witnesses, and oath. After 1906, the forms also provide residence, occupation, date and place of birth, date and place of emigration, means of travel to the U.S., date and place of immigration, date and place declaration filed, names of spouse and children, their places of birth and residence, length of time in Michigan, names of witnesses, plus their occupations and residence. Alphabetical name indexes are at the front of each volume.
The court orders are documents prepared twice a year that identify those persons who have qualified for U.S. citizenship. These papers are the judge’s order granting petitions for naturalization, and simply list date and name of individual.
Certificates of Naturalization
Certificates of naturalization give number, name, age, date of transaction, place and date where the declaration of intention was filed, date and place where the petition was filed, date and place where the order was filed, and residence of each. The Archives of Michigan holds few certificates of naturalization.
The Abrams Foundation Historical Collection also has an impressive collection of naturalization records, indexes, and abstracts from across the United States. Be sure to utilize ANSWER, the Archives’ online catalog available at answercat.org . A creative search using the phrase “naturalization [county name]” will yield the most number of relevant hits. Here are a few additional resources of note:
Index of Declarations of Intent of Immigrants Naturalized in Lucas County, Ohio, 1844-1907. Toledo, Ohio: Lucas County Chapter, Ohio Genealogical Society, 1996./F 497 .L9 I54 1996/
Index to Lake County, Indiana, Naturalization Records, 1854 to 1932. Valparaiso, IN: Northwest Indiana Genealogical Society, 1992./F 532 .L2 I53 1992/
Index to Naturalization Petitions of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 1865-1957. 142 reels. North Salt Lake, UT: HeritageQuest, 2000./Microfilm F 118 .I64 2000z/
Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906. 117 reels. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1983./Microfilm F 4 .I53 1983/
Michigan. Circuit Court (37th Circuit). Naturalization Records of the 37th Circuit Court for Calhoun County, 1892-1980./RG 91-270
An index is available in the Archives Reading Room.
Newman, John J. American Naturalization Processes and Procedures, 1790-1985. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana Historical Society, 1985./JK 1811 .N47z/
Schaefer, Christina K. Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing, 1997./CS 49 .S28 1997/
Soundex Index to Naturalization Petitions for the United States District and Circuit Courts, Northern District of Illinois, and Immigration and Naturalization Service, District 9, 1840-1950. 183 reels. Washington, DC: National Archives, 1988./Microfilm F 540 .U55 1988/
Szucs, Loretto Dennis. They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins. Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry, 1998./CS 47 .S96 1998/
Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society. A List of Immigrants Who Applied for Naturalization Papers in the District Courts of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. 6 vols. Pittsburgh, PA: Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, 1978-1982.Covers 1798-1906./F 157 .A4 W47 1978
Cook County (IL) Naturalization Declarations of Intention
Index to Chicago and Cook County declarations of intention from 1906-1929.
Cyndi’s List: Immigration & Naturalization
An excellent starting point for online research with immigration and naturalization records.
This subscription database has images and indexes from across the U.S., including New York and Pennsylvania. Users can search for free, but need an active account to view images.
A database of advertisements for Irish immigrants that appeared in the Boston Pilot from 1831-1921.
Naturalization indexes to more than 30 Michigan counties available at the Archives of Michigan.
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