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Naturalization is the process by which an a person born outside the United States becomes a citizen of the United States. These records can provide a wealth of information to family historians.  Information varies by year but can include a person’s birth date and location, occupation, immigration year, marital status and spouse information, witnesses’ names and addresses, and more.

Start Indexing

You can help make naturalization records available online at Michiganology by indexing. The naturalization records need to be index so that they will be searchable by name.

FamilySearch has streamlined indexing into a web based portal. This video will demonstrate how to find the Michigan Naturalization Project and index with this new tool.

Naturalization

1790

Uniform rules were established, including two-year residency in the U.S., with one year in the state. Children of naturalized citizens received automatic citizenship.

1804

Widows and children of an alien who died before fulfilling the naturalization process were granted citizenship.

1824

The residency requirement between filing the declaration and final papers was reduced to two years.

1855

Alien females who marry a U.S. citizen were automatically naturalized.  This was repealed in 1922.

1862

Aliens over the age of 21 who served in the military could become citizens after 1 year of residence.

1906

The Bureau of Immigration & Naturalization established and alien registration required. Residency requirements were now two years to file Intent, with 5 years for final papers. This standardization resulted in a huge expansion of the information collected and found on the records.

1907

Native-born women who marry an alien lost their U.S. citizenship and took on the nationality of their husband.  This law was repealed in 1922, but women’s citizenship lost under these circumstances was not restored until 1936.

1918

Aliens who served in the military during World War I could become citizens without any residency requirements.

1921

The first Immigration Act establishing quotas based on ethnic origins became law.

1922

Women over the age of 21 who were entitled to citizenship in their own right.  This law discontinued “derivative citizenship” where a women’s citizenship status was based on her husband’s or father’s status.  Residency requirements were also removed from submitting a declaration of intent.

Resources

at the Archives of Michigan

In addition to content on Michiganology, you can find more original records and published books on naturalization at the Archives of Michigan.

Adult woman and two young girls smile and laugh while paging through historic documents laid out on a wood table.