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According to the National Archives web site, naturalization is the process by which an alien becomes an American citizen. Prospective applicants must declare their intention to become citizens, observe the required residence period, and finally petition for admission.
Although naturalization requirements have changed many times since the first laws were passed, it was the act of 1795, further defined in 1802, that initiated a two-part recording process that resulted in distinct sets of papers for researchers to locate when researching ancestors born outside of the United States who later immigrated to this country and applied for citizenship.
Naturalization petitions -- second or final papers -- were filed after the applicant had met the necessary requirements of citizenship and residency. Before 1906, their content varied, often including data such as the names of witnesses, how long a petitioner lived in the United States, current residence, age, former nationality and renunciation of allegiance to foreign governments.
This collection is taken from the following NARA microfilm publications: