||County Clerk's Office|
||1800 - 1981|
||27 cubic feet|
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SCOPE AND CONTENT
We are pleased to announce
the Monmouth County Archives' new online searchable database for naturalizations from 1800 to 1906.
I. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY
Prior to the ratification of the U. S. Constitution, the granting of citizenship to aliens was regulated by the individual colonies. This decentralized system created a broad variation in citizenship policies. A citizen relocating from one colony to another was required to apply for citizenship within the new jurisdiction to be eligible for the benefits and privileges of that colony.
The Articles of Confederation, which provided guidelines for unification of the states, addressed the problematic issue of state vs. federal citizenship in Article IV by encouraging the states to "perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the United States in this Union." Article IV also stated that all free citizens in the several States "shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States. . . ." While the Founding Fathers, through the Articles, thus recognized the need for uniformity in laws governing the country's citizens and in granting new citizenships, naturalization policy was not fully addressed until the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The purpose of the Convention was to formulate the laws which would govern the country. Included in the delegates' agenda was the issue of citizenship, particularly laws governing naturalization of immigrants.
Political, social, and economic development of the new nation depended on immigration. While there was little doubt the country needed to encourage immigration, the conservative Federalists questioned whether aliens, after naturalization, should receive all the benefits and privileges of citizenship, including the rights to vote and hold office. Debates during the Constitutional Convention in 1787 continued for months regarding the length of residency requirements and the privileges of naturalized citizens.
The Convention resulted in the adoption of Chapter 8, Clause 4, into the Constitution. It authorized Congress to establish a "Uniform Rule of Naturalization." Through this constitutional authority, the creation of the laws and regulations governing immigration and naturalization were finally placed under federal jurisdiction.
On March 26, 1790, Congress adopted its first policy regarding the citizenship issue, entitled, "An Act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization." Through the 1790 Act, any free white alien, who had resided in the country for two years, could apply to become a citizen. The application was to be submitted to any common law court of record (common pleas or county court) within any state or territory in which the applicant resided for one year. The clerk of the court was required to record each naturalization in the court's records.
Although the Act permitted women to be naturalized, few chose to do so (applications by women are not found in Monmouth County's records until 1922). Until the Cable Act of September 1922, which established "independent citizenship for married women," women were automatically naturalized through marriage. In March 1907, Congress declared that native-born American women, through their marriage to an alien, lost their citizenship. This law was also repealed by the Cable Act, which provided that such women could regain their citizenship by a simplified naturalization process including an Oath of Allegiance.
While the 1790 Act authorized the development of uniform guidelines and procedures, it did not provide a central agency to oversee the process. (Naturalization procedures were not centralized until 1906, when President Roosevelt established the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization). The lack of federal supervision left the states to devise their own methods and procedures.
The free-spirited, open door attitude toward whites began to change when European wars and political unrest created a wave of political refugees to the U.S. in the 1790s. Many Americans, especially the Federalists, considered this new breed of immigrant and their political theories a threat to the political future of the country. They proposed keeping the influx of immigrants to a minimum, extending residency requirements, and instituting strict guidelines regulating the granting of citizenship. The opposition argued that the proposal would discourage immigration and jeopardize future growth.
Compromise was reached through the Act of 1795 which raised the residency requirement to five years. In addition, applicants were required to declare their intention to become a citizen, at least three years before the actual naturalization, to any supreme, superior, district or circuit court of the state or territory in which the individual resided.
Only three years later, the political pendulum swung the other way through the "Naturalization Act of June 18, 1798." In an attempt to control the number of French and Irish immigrants, the act increased the residency requirement to fourteen years and required a five-year interval between the declaration of intention and the final naturalization procedure. Clerks of the court were instructed to furnish the Secretary of State with each record of naturalization. All resident aliens were ordered to register and new aliens were required to register upon arrival.
Despite the increased barrier to citizenship, the Act of 1798 did not slow the number of immigrants to America and, by the turn of the century, a new administration had replaced the conservative Federalists. The Act of 1798 was repealed by the Naturalization Act of April 14, 1802, and reestablished the five-year residency requirement. In addition, declarations of intention were to be made three years prior to naturalization. Applicants also were required to take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and to provide witnesses to attest to their good moral character. Declarations and naturalizations continued to be recorded "in any district or circuit court" or in any court having common law jurisdiction in the state where the alien resided.
Each subsequent law required additional statistical information concerning the immigrants. The "Steerage Act of March 2, 1819," required that passenger lists or manifests of all arriving vessels be submitted to the Collector of Customs. Copies of the lists were sent to the Secretary of State, who reported the information to Congress.
The Act of May 26, 1824, permitted aliens who had arrived in the United States as minors to make their declaration of intention two years prior to their naturalization, rather than waiting the three years required for adults.
While the Act of 1790 attempted to make naturalization procedures standard throughout the states, early declarations of intentions and naturalizations contain varied information depending on laws and procedures in effect (See Scope and Content for additional information). To address this problem, the New Jersey General Assembly approved "An act concerning naturalization" on March 26, 1895, authorizing the use of a standard, detailed application form, which included the applicant's name; occupation; home address; country of origin; date of birth; date and place of arrival; and the name and address of applicant's witness. The act of legislation gave sole jurisdiction of granting citizenship to either the Supreme Court or county courts of common pleas.
Numerous laws enacted over the 19th and 20th centuries included restrictions on the importation of Chinese "coolies" (1862); criminals and prostitutes (1875); the naturalization of Chinese (1882); persons likely to become public charges (1885); anarchists (1903); and imbeciles, feeble-minded persons or any person with physical or mental defects or tuberculosis (1907). In May of 1921, the first quota system was established limiting the total number of immigrants of each nationality to 3% of the foreign-born persons of that nationality residing in the United States in the year 1910. The Immigration Act of May 26, 1924, considered the first permanent limitation on immigrants, based the total number of immigrants from each country on 2% of the number of foreign-born from that country residing in the United States in the year 1890. The 1920 quota system remains in effect today, although there have been revisions and changes over the years, including 1990 legislation which increased the number of visas available for certain underrepresented countries.
While the laws changed, the basic application procedures, residency requirements, and courts of record remained the same. From 1800 to 1991, the recording and filing of records relating to naturalized citizens residing in the county was the responsibility of the county clerks, as clerks of the courts. In May 1991, all responsibilities relating to declarations of intent, naturalizations, and the granting of citizenship to aliens were removed from the county level and are now under the sole jurisdiction of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
II. SCOPE AND CONTENT
The Monmouth County Clerk's naturalization records cover the period 1800 to 1981 and are organized as follows:
- Declarations of Intention
- Depositions by Witnesses
- Naturalizations Not Granted
Volumes, 1824 - 1981 (on microfilm only)
||Naturalizations 1824 - 1896
||Naturalizations 1896 - 1906
||Naturalizations 1907 - 1981
||Military Petitions 1918 - 1919
||Oaths of Allegiance 1941 - 1981 |
Index volumes, covering the years 1824 to 1906, are arranged alphabetically by name of applicant and include date naturalized and the naturalization number assigned to each applicant. The indexes serve as a finding aid to locate the petitioner's naturalization papers, which are arranged according to the naturalization number. The 1907 to 1981 index provides a book and page number to help in locating the naturalization within the Naturalization volumes.
B. DECLARATIONS OF INTENTION
1800 - 1911 (1 box loose papers); 1895 - 1958 (25 volumes on microfilm); 1907 - 1942 (18 volumes)
A declaration of intention consists of an applicant's formal oath of his or her "bona fide" intention to become a citizen, and a renunciation of all allegiances to any other foreign "Prince, Potentate, State or Sovereignty." Information included on the declarations varied over periods of time. Early declarations covering the period 1800 to 1850 state the name of applicant; date of birth; town and country of origin; place of residence at time of making the declaration; and the date of application. In most cases, a date and location of arrival in the country are mentioned. During the period 1850 to 1895, declarations provide only name, country of origin and date of application. There is one box which includes Declarations of Intention, only, for individuals who declared but for various reasons were not naturalized in Monmouth County.
By 1895, under the Act approved by the New Jersey General Assembly, declarations began to be recorded in volumes rather than on separate forms. Information provided within the volumes includes: name; age; occupation; color; height; weight; hair color; place of birth and date; and present residence. The date and location of departure; the name of the vessel; and date and place of arrival in the country is also included. Under the 1895 law, declarations of intention were also filed with the final naturalization papers. Both forms can be found within Naturalization Volumes 1 through 61. This system continued until 1991.
C. NATURALIZATIONS AND PETITIONS
1808 - 1906 (46 boxes loose papers); 1907 - 1925 Certificates of Naturalization (8 boxes)
The naturalization paper is the formal certificate granting citizenship to an alien. From 1808 to 1906, various formats were used in the final naturalization document. Information included in these early papers provides applicant, name and signature of witness attesting to the fact that he is well acquainted with the petitioner, and that the petitioner is a "man of good moral character." The final section includes the applicant's oath of allegiance and signature. Each naturalization certificate is numbered consecutively according to citizenships granted.
Beginning in 1907, standardized recording books were issued to the clerks of the courts by the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization. The Certificate of Naturalization volume consisted of two parts: the actual certificate, which was removed from the book; and a stub which contains the number of the certificate; name and age of applicant; date of declaration of intention; and the name and address of wife and minor children. The information also was recorded in Naturalization Volumes 1 through 61 which provide a more detailed description of the applicant, including age; town of birth; date; location of departure; name of vessel; and place and date of arrival in this country.
D. DEPOSITIONS BY WITNESSES
1912 - 1931 (3 boxes loose papers)
As established by law, aliens wishing to become citizens were required to fulfill certain requirements to obtain citizenship, including five years continuous residency requirement within one state or territory. In many cases, individuals were disqualified because they had, for whatever reasons, not lived within one state during the full five years. In order to accommodate these petitioners, the Act of 1906, Section 10, required that the alien establish proof of residency during the five-year period by providing written testimony of witnesses verifying the full periods of his or her residence. The depositions were filed with the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and the United States Attorney in charge of naturalization proceedings. The final hearing was held by Naturalization District court.
Witness depositions include name; age; occupation; residence; place of birth; number of years resident of state and country; and general account of acquaintance with petitioner. Copies of all documents relating to the case were filed with the clerk of the court where the petitioner currently resided.
E. NATURALIZATIONS NOT GRANTED
1884 - 1906 (5 boxes loose papers)
This small group of Naturalizations Not Granted includes the petitioner's application for citizenship to the Monmouth County Court of Common Pleas. The petition includes name of applicant; date and place of birth; date of arrival in the United States; occupation; and place of residence at time of application. In addition, the form contains the name, residence, and occupation of the applicant's witness. The application does not indicate the reason the citizenship was denied.
Use of naturalization records is unrestricted.
The Archives has a computer index available to the naturalization papers in the Archives: more than 4,750 from the period 1804 to 1906. This index is available on-line on the Archives' web page. In addition to indexing persons naturalized, the data also includes immigrants who declared their intent but did not get naturalized, those whose petition was denied, and a few whose naturalizations were cancelled.
The index also includes witness depositions for more than 650 witnesses, indexed by the individual applying for naturalization, for the period 1912 to 1949. Witness depositions are available for only a small proportion of the naturalizations.
For naturalizations from 1907 to 1981, researchers should use the naturalization index books which are available on microfilm in the Archives reading room. Information in these books can be used to locate the declarations of intent and petitions, also on microfilm only for this period. Naturalization indexes and records from 1982 to 1992 are at the County Clerk office in Freehold.
In addition to the records in the Naturalizations record series, the Archives also holds minute books for the Court of Common Pleas, which contain references to naturalizations. It is very likely that all naturalizations recorded in these minute books also are documented in the Naturalizations record series but this assumption has not been systematically verified.
Page Last Updated: 11/28/2011 11:54:00 AM