New York City naturalizations through 1956 going online

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New York City naturalizations through 1956 going online

Post by smcarberry » Fri Jul 14, 2023 10:30 pm

This is a fairly major development, because this database provides, quite instantly, legible images of whatever a court file has on an individual naturalized on a given date. You can read for yourself the actual typing or handwriting, exactly as it was incorporated into the court record -- not a transcription and not just an index. Due to a funding source, New York City courts now have a unified online database for citizenship papers of their foreign-born residents. The ending year so far is 1956 (yes, in the 20th century), and the start date depends on the involved borough (now known as a county). For Queens County, which is east of Brooklyn on the physical expanse called Long Island, the starting date is prior to 1800. Queens County naturalization records are now all fully oniine, at the link given below. For the Bronx, created from Manhattan borough (aka New York County), its court system at the county level started in Jan 1914, and thus its naturalization records start as of that time. As of today's date, only Queens and Bronx county courts' naturalization records are online. It appears that further funding will be allowing additional records for other counties but I have no crystal ball on that (which counties and when). Brooklyn (Kings County) would be the most numerous and thus take the longest/most money to achieve.

First, the link for New York City all-borough naturalizations for which the court records are kept at the county level:

You can search by "sounds like" if you are truly clueless which surname spelling was used in the U.S., but I recommend using as a truncated version of the surname, such as "Hick" that will bring up Hicky and Hickey as well as (unfortunately) also Hicks and Hickman plus any other surname that starts with Hick. You can add Ireland for the country of origin to further limit the range of results. Try to stay away from the "sounds like" as there are simply too many results, not pertinent to your search goal - immigrants were pouring in from all over Europe and often adopting a easier surname for Americans to use. Also, watch that your target NYC county for a search stays as what you want, as I noticed that my repeatedly trying various surnames in the Bronx somehow defaulted back to a Queens search. That would be a system glitch not yet corrected.

Here is the main interface screen for this new naturalization database which has a FAQ section lower down on the screen, below the woman's photograph which is the official/intended way for people to enter the database (it is perhaps confusing to click on Clara's image, so the above link I provided takes you past Clara, to the naturalization search engine).

There are some naturalizations as early as the 1850s, but those tend to be too brief on specific info about the individual being naturalized, such as birthdate and locality in Ireland. Later ones can be (e.g. the 1920s) as detailed as having a modern-looking "headshot" photograph of the new citizen, complete with Co. Clare townland. Nice...

In this database, I saw several Clare-born who entered through the Port of Boston (Massachusetts) and provided exact immigration/ship details in their NYC naturalization petitions. The 1890s saw many young people leave the family home in other states such as MA and try their luck in NYC. While they may have initially tried menial jobs (housemaid for women, street work jobs for men) in Manhattan and Brooklyn, they may have had their sights set on establishing a family home in the Bronx or Queens. Applying for citizenship before tying the knot (marriage) was a common thing to get out of the way, and thus a Boston-inbound immigrant arriving as a child may have waited until his 20s to naturalize, while also acquiring a bride and his new semi-suburban home outside the densely-populated boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The only limit on searching is the time and energy you can put into it. Good luck.

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