Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: Naturalization Records, 1816 - 1955

Naturalization Records, 1816 - 1955

What are Naturalization Records?

Naturalization records play an important role in understanding the history of immigration in Missouri. Naturalization is the process by which a person who immigrates to the United States becomes an American citizen. Congress passed the first naturalization law in 1790. From that time through the early 20th century, immigrants could file naturalization papers in any court of record. County courts tended to be most convenient, and in Missouri, these courts included circuit court, chancery court, probate court, common pleas court, and court of equity. There was a two-part filing process, but the process did not have to take place in the same court. All Europeans residing in the Louisiana Territory (Missouri) at the time of the 1803 Purchase were automatically granted United States citizenship rights and privileges.

After living in the United States for two years, an immigrant could file the original "first papers," or declaration of intent (this requirement ended in 1952). After another three years of residence, the immigrant could file the petition for naturalization, or "second, or final papers". There are several exceptions to the general five-year rule, however:

Before 1906, naturalization took place in local, state, or federal courts. There was no uniform system of maintaining naturalization records. The Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization was established in September 1906; local courts were encouraged to relinquish their naturalization jurisdiction to federal courts. The post-1906 records were standardized. There are some exceptions, but in general, post-1906 records are uniform in appearance and include the biographical data of the applicant and that of spouse and children.


About the project

Missouri State Archives, 'Where History Begins' St Louis Genealogical Society logo

Beginning in November 2003, volunteers from the St. Louis Genealogical Society, in a collaborative effort with the Missouri State Archives and the St. Louis City Circuit Court, sorted three partially-complete sets of naturalization index cards with citations to corresponding naturalization record books of the St. Louis Circuit Court. The Society then compiled information from the records into a searchable database of 93,104 entries, representing immigrant persons who filed for naturalization in the St. Louis court system from 1816 through September 1906.

The Naturalization Records Project at the Missouri State Archives

Volunteers are transcribing naturalization data from various county record books and from Supreme Court of Missouri record books to produce a database of immigration information. The project is ongoing with the transcription of most of the counties' records in progress.   When complete this database will include naturalizations recorded throughout Missouri.

Included in Naturalization Records Project

  • Andrew
  • Bates
  • Bollinger
  • Buchanan
  • Butler
  • Carroll
  • Cedar
  • Clark
  • Clinton
  • Cole
  • Cooper
  • Franklin
  • Gasconade
  • Iron
  • Macon
  • Miller
  • Platte
  • Shelby
  • St. Charles
  • St. Louis City
  • Supreme Court of Missouri
Indexing in Progress
  • Jefferson
  • Lafayette
  • Linn
  • Madison
  • Morgan
  • Oregon
  • Osage
  • Perry
  • Pettis
  • Phelps
  • Ste. Genevieve
  • Scott
  • Washington
  • Wayne

Additional Resources