Whether they came from Germany, Ireland, Asia, or South America, odds are that at least some of your ancestors were immigrants. People came from all over the world to settle in Indiana, and they did so for a variety of reasons. Regardless of their country of origin, in order to become United States citizens, they all had to go through the process of naturalization.

Indiana Naturalization Certificate

Naturalization Certificate for German-born Eli Jacobs, via the Indiana Historical Society

The earliest naturalization records in Indiana date to 1807. Throughout the years various county courts handled naturalization proceedings. Even the Indiana Supreme Court naturalized people for a time. The process required foreign born peoples to follow a two-step process. They first had to file a declaration of intent to become naturalized, then file a petition for naturalization. Once their petition was approved, they received a certificate that granted them citizenship. The entire process took several years.

Slovenian Girls

Second-generation Slovenian girls in traditional costumes, via the Indiana Historical Society

Before 1906, only men were required to file for naturalization. Women were not required to file until 1922. Before this time, they either became citizens automatically when their husbands were naturalized or by marrying a U.S. citizen. Likewise, children were automatically granted citizenship along with their fathers.

In 1926 a federal law was passed that made naturalization a matter for the federal district courts. Most counties stopped filing naturalization paperwork soon after.

Greek Independence Day

A celebration of Greek Independence Day, via the Indiana Historical Society

Naturalization records filed in the state of Indiana are in the process of being transferred to the State Archives. There is currently an searchable index available online for those records that have already been transferred and processed. If you’re searching for your Indiana immigrant relatives, this database is the best place to start.

For later naturalization records that were filed with the federal courts, you must contact the National Archives. Files for this region are located at the Great Lakes Branch in Chicago.