The East St. Louis City Court Naturalization Papers Index was compiled by Barbara Heflin and Karl Moore, supervisors of the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) System. The 1,865 records in the database were extracted from the East St. Louis City Court Naturalization Papers (IRAD Accession 6/0332/18). The original naturalization papers were processed and microfilmed by staff of the Illinois State Archives.
Each entry found in the index contains the following categories of information: the name and nativity of the immigrant; the dates of declaration and final papers; and the box and folder number. The naturalization papers found in this index were filed in the City Court of East St. Louis. Naturalization records filed in the circuit court and county court of St. Clair County are not included in this index.
The spelling of foreign names often varied. In many cases, names were also anglicized by either the court clerk or the immigrant. For example, the name Heinrich became Henry, Jean became John and Wilhelm became William. Whenever possible, the signature of the immigrant was used to determine the spelling of his name. In cases where the immigrant was unable to write or his handwriting was illegible, the court clerk's spelling was used. Since court clerks often spelled names the way they sounded, misspellings frequently occurred. Consequently, researchers should be aware that the name of the person for whom they are searching may have been misspelled and they should check all possible variations of spellings of surnames as well as the spellings of Christian names.
The Naturalization Act of May 16, 1790, required a two year residence in the United States and one year residence in the state where the naturalization was granted. It also required the individual to be of good moral character and to make an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. [Act of March 26, 1790, 1 Stat., section 1] The petitioner could file in any court of record and a declaration of intent was not required at that time. The Act of 1790 was repealed by an Act of January 29, 1795, which required a declaration of intent to be filed three (3) years before admission as a citizen, residence in the United States for five (5) years and one (1) in the state where naturalized, an oath of allegiance, good moral character, renunciation of any title of nobility, and the foreswearing of allegiance to the reigning foreign sovereign. [Act of January 29, 1795, 1 Stat. 414, section 3] This, with slight modification, became the cornerstone of all future naturalization laws in the United States.
The 1795 act was supplemented and amended by one of the most stringent naturalization laws ever enacted in the United States, the Act of 1798, which increased the residency requirements to fourteen years. [Act of June 18, 1798, 1 Stat. 566, section 4] This law was repealed by the Act of April 14, 1802, which reenacted the basic provisions of the 1790 Act. [Act of April 14, 1802, 2 Stat. 153, section 4] An Act of 1824 reduced the time between filing a declaration of intent and naturalization from three (3) years to two (2) years. [Act of May 24, 1824, 4 Stat. 69, section 4]
The naturalization process is basically a three step process usually involving the creation of three types of naturalization papers: Declaration of Intent; Petition for Final Naturalization; and Naturalization Final Oath. A declaration of intent declares the petitioner's intent to become a citizen of the United States and renounces his allegiance to his former sovereignty. Since 1824, a declaration of intent must have been filed at least two (2) years before a petition for final papers could be filed. In 1889, Illinois law required in cases where an alien, after filing his intention to become a citizen of the United States, shall, for the space of three months after he could lawfully do so, fail to take out his naturalization papers and complete his naturalization, such failure shall be prima facie evidence that his declaration of intentions was not made in good faith. [Statutes of Illinois, In Force, July 1, 1889]
Two (2) years after filing his declaration of intent, the petitioner could petition the court for his final papers assuming he had fulfilled his residency requirements. Petitioners were required to live in the United States for at least five (5) years and in the State of Illinois for at least one (1) year. The petition for naturalization requests that the final naturalization papers be issued. The naturalization final oath grants citizenship.
Since naturalization records could be filed in any court of record and a petitioner may have moved several times between filing his/her declaration of intent and receiving his/her final naturalization papers, these records may not have been filed in the same location. The records are often filed in different states; for example, the declaration of intent may have been filed in New York and the final naturalization papers granted in Illinois. This can make locating naturalization records difficult, especially declarations of intent.
Derivative citizenship is that based upon citizenship of another or upon some service the applicant performed, causing naturalization not to follow every step generally required of aliens. Persons naturalized in this manner are referred to as derivative citizens as opposed to naturalized citizens.
Children have become citizens automatically by naturalization of their parents since the Naturalization Act of March 26, 1790: "children of such persons so naturalized, dwelling within the United States, being under the age of twenty-one years at the time of such naturalization, shall also be considered as citizens of the United States." [Act of March 26, 1790, 1 Stat. 103, section 1] This law and later laws permitted citizenship automatically for children of naturalized parents. A child of a naturalized citizen was not required to file naturalization papers on his or her behalf.
A similar structure existed for spouses of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, the wife was automatically naturalized when citizenship was granted to her husband; a separate filing was not required. An Act of February 1855, stated "any woman who might lawfully be naturalized under existing laws, married, or shall be married to a citizen of the United States, shall be deemed and taken to be a citizen." [Act of February 10, 1855, 10 Stat. 604, section 2] Because women were either naturalized through their father's citizenship or that of their husband, very few naturalization records will be found for women before 1922. An Act of September 22, 1922 removed marriage as a cause for naturalization. [Act of September 22, 1922, 43 Stat. 1022, section 4] A married woman now had to be naturalized on her own.
Special considerations regarding the naturalization process were given to persons serving in the United States military. An Act of July 17, 1862, permitted "any alien, of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, who has enlisted, or may enlist in the armies of the United States, either the regulars or volunteer forces, and has been, or may be hereafter, honorably discharged, shall be admitted to become a citizen of the United States, upon his petition, without any previous declaration of intention to become such; and he shall not be required to prove more than one year's residence." [Act of July 17, 1862, 12 Stat. 597, section 21]
Even though this legislation was used as an inducement for aliens to enlist for service in the Civil War, it was also applied to the Mexican, Indian and Spanish–American wars. For military naturalization, a declaration of intent would not be filed, but proof of residence, good moral character, and honorable discharge were required to be recorded as part of the naturalization petition. As with Minor's Papers, the Discharged Soldier's Petition for Final Naturalization and the Final Oath were often included on one document.
In an Act of August 1, 1894, "no person (except an Indian) who is not a citizen of the United States, or who has not made legal declaration of intent to become a citizen...shall be enlisted" in the Army of the United States during time of peace. [Act of August 2, 1894, 28 Stat. 215, section 2] An Act of May 9, 1918, provided for the immediate naturalization of alien soldiers, eliminating the required declarations of intention, the certificate of arrival, and proof of residence. [Act of May 9, 1918, 40 Stat. 542, section 1] The 1940 Nationality Act and later laws extended similar privileges to soldiers serving in World War II, the Korean War and the Viet Nam War. [Act of October 14, 1940, 54 Stat. 1137, section 504]
Persons under the age of twenty-one could not be naturalized. However, special consideration was given to adult applicants who arrived in the United States as minors. Applicants who arrived in the United States as a minor under the age of twenty-one years and who resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States, for and during the full term of five years, including three years previous to his arrival at the age of twenty-one years, and one year within the state of residence could file Minor's Papers. [Act of May 26, 1824, 4 Stat. 69, section 1] Persons filing Minor's Papers were not required to file a separate declaration of intent. Like Military Papers, the Minor's Petition for Final Naturalization and the Final Oath were often included on one document.
Declarations of intent show the county and the court where the declaration was filed, the name of the person applying for citizenship, the person's nationality, a statement declaring his intention to become a citizen of the United States, a renunciation of allegiance to any foreign power, the date of filing, and the signature of the clerk of the court.
Petitions show the name of the county and the court where the petition was filed; the court term; the names of the petitioner, presiding judge and court clerk; the petitioner's nationality; the date of filing of the declaration of intent; a statement of the petitioner's intent to become a citizen of the United States and a renunciation of allegiance to any foreign power; a request to be admitted as a citizen of the United States; the date of filing; and the signatures of the petitioner and court clerk.
Final Oaths show the name of the county and the court where the final oath was granted; the court term; the name of the person becoming naturalized; the term of residence in the United States and the State of Illinois; an affidavit from two (2) witnesses on the petitioner's character and residence; an oath of allegiance to support the Constitution of the United States; a renunciation of allegiance to any foreign power; the date of filing; and the signature of the clerk of the court.
Minor's Papers show the name of the county and court where the papers were filed; the court term; the names of the petitioner, presiding judge and court clerk; the petitioner's nationality; a statement that he arrived in the United States 3 years preceding his arrival at the age of twenty-one and continued to reside therein to the time of making application to be admitted as a citizen; the term of residence in the United States and the State of Illinois; a declaration of the petitioner's intent to become a citizen of the United States; a renunciation of allegiance to any foreign power; an oath of allegiance to support the Constitution of the United States; an affidavit from two (2) witnesses on the petitioner's character and residence; the date of filing; and the signatures of the petitioner and court clerk.
The East St. Louis city court naturalization papers contain: Declarations of Intent (1854–1906); Petitions for Final Papers and Naturalization Final Oaths; Minor's Petition and Final Oath; and Soldier's Petition and Final Oath. These naturalization papers were filed in the City Court of East St. Louis between 1874 and 1906. Normal adult naturalization papers usually include a declaration of intent and a naturalization petition and final oath. Minor's and Soldier's naturalization papers are usually a single document.
Copies of the files found in this index may be obtained by mail or telephone. Inquiries should be made directly to the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. IRAD cannot accept requests by email at this time. Please contact:
Illinois Regional Archives Depository
c/o Records Management
Morris Library, Mail Code 6808
Southern Illinois University
1835 University Press Dr.
Carbondale, IL 62901-6808