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Genealogy Immigration/Naturalization

Before the American Revolutionary War persons coming to the colonies from Great Britain were not considered immigrants. However various passenger lists do exist. It was not until 1819 that the U.S. government required documents on incoming ship passengers. The information contained in passenger lists varied greatly. An excellent index to early records can be found in P. William Filby's series "Passenger and Immigration Lists Index" which can be found in many large research libraries. These indexes cover persons in the 18th and 19th century coming to the U.S. and Canada and refer the researcher to an journal or book in which an individual's name appears in a passenger list. There are other excellent indexes in print and on the Internet.

Naturalization is the process by which an alien becomes a United States' citizen. The process, as well as the methods of record keeping, have varied over the years.

Since September 27, 1906, the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization in Washington D.C. has maintained copies of naturalization records. Prior to 1906 the records might be found in an individual county's Court of Common Pleas, Quarter Sessions, or other county courts, the State Supreme Court, and the U.S. Circuit and District Courts.  County records were usually maintained by the Prothonotary of the County Court. The National Archives and State Archives have copies of some naturalization records.

Once persons entered the country they often continued their migration until they found a place to settle.  The sites below offer some facts on where our ancestors came from and where they may have gone.

Disclaimer: This page contains links that are not under the management or control of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and are not governed by the privacy or security policies of the Commonwealth.  We have provided links to these sites because they have information or features that may be of interest to you as a visitor to Commonwealth Libraries.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not necessarily endorse the views expressed, or the facts presented, on these sites. Further, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or available on these sites.

For additional information, please contact:

Kathy Hale | Government Documents Library/Access/Systems Supervisor
Pennsylvania Department of Education - Bureau of State Library
607 South Drive. Forum Building | Harrisburg, PA 17120-0600
Phone: 717.787.2327
kahale@pa.gov | www.education.state.pa.us