Skip to main content

Naturalization is the process by which a person born outside the United States becomes an American citizen. Citizenship records can provide a wealth of information to family historians. The amount of information varies by year, but can include the date and location of a person’s birth, occupation, immigration year, marital status and spouse information, the names and addresses of the people who witnessed the naturalization ceremony and more.

Start Indexing

You can help make naturalization records available online at by participating in our indexing project. The naturalization records need to be indexed 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.

History of Naturalization


Uniform rules were established for naturalization.  These rules included a two-year residency requirement before individuals could begin to file for citizenship.  Moreover, individuals had to have at least one year of the two-year residency within the state from which they filed paperwork.  Another rule gave children of naturalized citizens automatic citizenship.


Additional requirements to the naturalization process were added, three year residency to file a Declaration of Intention, five years to file Petition. Derivative citizenship for wives and minor children also provided.


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


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


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  This was repealed in 1922.


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


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 in the records.


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  This law was repealed in 1922, but women’s citizenship lost under these circumstances was not restored until 1936.


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


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


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.


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.

Search the Digital Archive