Using naturalization documents in research

Citizenship intent - using documents in research
Declaration of intent to become a US citizen (1936) – Giuseppe Iob

After spending many years in the United States, many of our ancestors from Trentino petitioned to become US citizens.  Normally, one of the prerequisites in the naturalization process was to obtain information about the applicant’s original emigration to the US.  When verifiying the applicant’s arrival to the US, the Immigration Service viewed the ship arrival manifest, and made notations on the manifest, giving the date and jurisdiction where an application for citizenship was made.  These notations are often found on the microfilmed Ellis Island passenger manifests. Thus, if you are able to locate and view your ancestor’s arrival manifest and see a series of handwritten numbers on the line bearing your ancestor’s information, that is a clue to the date and place where preliminary naturalization papers were filed. 

Another clue to whether or not your ancestor was natualized is the census.  Since most of our Trentino ancestors arrived between 1890 and 1920’s, they can usually be found on one or more census documents.  There is usually a column asking about citizenship — for foreign born individuals, there is usually a “al” (alien), “na” (naturalized), or “pa” (papers starting the naturalization process have been filed. 

If neither of these sources provide a clue about naturalization, then search the online databases.  These databases (e.g. and — formerly known as can be searched by name, keyword (such as your ancestral village, etc), and allow you to obtain immediate digital copies of  documents found.  Although most of the online resources require a paid subscription, you can generally access the databases free through your local public or college library either onsite or via your home internet connection.

The documents used to obtain citizenship are often a treasure trove of information.   For example, in the above document, we note the following information for Giuseppe Iob:
  • date and place of birth (Cunevo),
  • current residence,
  • occupation (bartender), 
  • description (has burn scar),
  • family members,
  • marital status (divorced),
  • date and place of marriage,
  • emigration date, place, and ship,
  • signature
 The document above is a Declaration of Intent to become a US citizen.  Other documents used in the process will often contain even more information.  Using these documents can fill in many gaps in your research and trace an ancestor’s movements.
This entry was posted in Cunevo, Databases, Genealogy, Iob (Yob, Job) families and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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