This database contains Petitions for Naturalization filed by former soldiers in Washington, D.C., courts during the years 1918–1924.
Petitions may include a wide range of details, such as
- current address
- birth date and place
- current and former citizenship
- marriage and spouse details
- emigration details
About the Naturalization Process
The first step for an immigrant who wanted to become a U.S. citizen was filing a Declaration of Intention to naturalize with a court. These papers are also known as First Papers. After the immigrant had completed these papers and met the residency requirement (which was usually five years), the individual was able to submit a Petition for Naturalization. Petitions are also known as Second or Final Papers. Immigrants also took a naturalization oath or oath of allegiance. After an immigrant had completed all citizenship requirements, they were issued a certificate of naturalization.
Exceptions to the Residency Requirement
Many of these records fall under a 9 May 1918 act of Congress which stated that “any alien serving in the military or naval service of the United States during the time this country is engaged in the present war may file his petition for naturalization without making the preliminary declaration of intention and without proof of the required five years residence within the United States.” Tens of thousands took advantage of this provision and applied for U.S. citizenship. NARA notes that “many soldiers filed petitions and were naturalized the same day.”
(NARA quotes taken from NARA description pamphlet for publication M1952.)