Immigration and Naturalization
Immigration and Naturalization records can provide substantial information about our ancestors. As with most records, the information collected became more detailed and valuable to the genealogist in later years. Many people do not recognize that the U.S. Census provides clues as to the existence of these records.
1820 - 1830 Census - Both of these census reports had questions about the number of "Foreigners not naturalized" in each household.
These censuses do not identify the person or persons in the household who are aliens, but this clue certainly notifies you to look for known household members in ship’s passenger manifests - beginning in 1820, ship's masters had to provide a list of passengers. They also suggest watching for household members in naturalization records which were usually handled by the local courts during this period.
1870 Census - This census has a column (far right side of the page) for "Male Citizens of the U.S. of 21 years of age and upwards." If you have an immigrant ancestor who has this column checked, it suggests that he had been naturalized - again, check the local courts for naturalization records. This census also has a column to indicate whether or not the individual's parents were of foreign birth.
1880 to 1930 - All list the birthplace of the person's parents. Foreign births are clues to the existence of passenger lists and naturalization records.
1900 to 1930 - All have columns indicating a foreign born person's natualization status. "AL" indicated alien, not naturalized. "NA" meant that the person had been naturalized, and "PA" indicated that first papers had been filed - the naturalization process was underway but not complete. The 1920 Census has a column that gives the year of immigration.