Overseas military naturalizations

Bernard 1For a recent research case, I was trying to locate a naturalization record which had been listed in an index to the Declarations of Intention, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York 1917-1950, at FamilySearch.org. However, when searching through the actual records, I found that the file number for this record was attached to a record with another person’s name. These petitions for naturalization are grouped by year and organized by box numbers and petition numbers. I knew my person had naturalized in 1943, so I searched different boxes for the year 1943 as well as for variations of the record number. I could still not find his petition.

[The] index had listed him by his former name.

One of the possible reasons that I could not find his record was that, according to the U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, he had changed his name sometime between April 1941 and September 1945. But the naturalizations index had listed him by his former name.

In my subsequent searches, I found my subject under his new name in the U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010; he had enlisted in the Army in July 1941 and was released in August 1945. And because he had naturalized in 1943, he would have done so then while he was in the military.

If you go to the National Archives at New York City website for information about their naturalization records, you will find listed under the “U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York” a separate record set called “Overseas Military Petitions - World War II and Korean War.” The Italian Genealogical Group (IGG) website hosts the Index to Overseas Military Petitions for World War II free of charge. However, note that records are still being added to this index, so it is not complete.

Fortunately, I found my person in this index, and he had naturalized under his new name. The index had listed his name, birth year, naturalization year, the record collection (MP WWII), the name of the court, and a completely different record number from the one I had found listed on the original index card!

The IGG website provides a printable form to request by mail a naturalization record from the National Archives in New York as a well as a link to ordering a record using a credit card. The record fee is $10.00 per copy; $25.00 for a certified copy.

Nancy Bernard

About Nancy Bernard

Nancy holds a certificate from the Boston University Genealogical Research program. She has a master’s degree in history and media study from SUNY University of Buffalo, where she focused on American cultural history and writing and producing documentary videos. She also has a B.A. from Hamilton College. She has interned at the American Jewish Historical Society, now at NEHGS, as well as the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, MA. Her areas of interest include New England and New York history and researching house histories and the families who lived in those homes.View all posts by Nancy Bernard