St. Louis Circuit Court Naturalization Index Cards, 1816-1906
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Naturalization Record Books, Indexes, and Index Cards at the Circuit Court

For most of the 20th century, access to naturalization records in the St. Louis Circuit Court depended on finding and searching through original books and indexes or finding citations on index cards to the naturalization books compiled during the 1930s-1940s. Even with the index card citations, locating the books themselves or on microfilm has been difficult for researchers because of ambiguity in the titles of the courts and volumes.

Index Card Sorting/Arranging Project, 2003-2004

Beginning in November 2003, St. Louis Genealogical Society (StLGS) volunteers, in a collaborative effort with the Missouri State Archives (MSA), State Archivist Ken Winn and the City of St. Louis Circuit Clerk Mariano Favazza, sorted all three groups of 180,000 naturalization index cards with citations to corresponding naturalization record books from 1816-1906 of the St. Louis Circuit Court. The final authoritative alphabetical set of index cards contains more than 93,000 cards. Volunteers then compared the final set with 17 microfilm reels produced by the Family History Library (FHL) in Utah in the 1980s when the FHL microfilmed most of the naturalization volumes and indexes. This quality check ensured that all cards in the current collection and on the microfilmed set were recorded. Volunteers also replaced damaged or lost cards by transcribing the information onto a new replacement index card.

Naturalization Index Card Database, 2005

St. Louis Genealogical Society volunteers compiled all information on the cards into a searchable database available online containing all the names and instructions for searching. The total effort on the part of STLGS exceeded 3,000 hours of volunteer effort.

New Microfilm of Naturalization Index Cards, 2004

The Missouri State Archives (MSA) microfilmed the new, alphabetical, authoritative set of index cards. These 13 new 16mm index reels (“County” microfilm reel numbers C 25740-C 25752) effectively supersede the 17 alphabetical reels of one of the groups of cards produced by the Latter-Day Saints Family History Library in the 1980s.

The new microfilm reels of the index cards are available for use at:

  • The Missouri State Archives at the Secretary of State building in Jefferson City
  • The Special Collections Department at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters on Lindbergh
  • The Circuit Clerk’s Office, City of St. Louis
  • or at other major research facilities

While the information from these microfilmed index cards is on the STLGS card index database and were created many years after the naturalization records, researchers may still want to make copies from the microfilm of the original index card for their ancestors. They can be purchased at the Missouri State Archives at www.sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/county/croll.asp.

Orders for microfilm rolls may be placed by

  • Determining the roll number designation (i.e. C25740).
  • Sending a letter listing all the individual roll numbers that are desired.
  • Sending a check covering $15.00 for each roll of microfilm ordered.
  • Mailing the letter and check to: Missouri State Archives P.O. Box 1747 Jefferson City, MO 65102

An order form is also available in PDF format on the Missouri State Archives website. Other research facilities listed here may also have these new 13 reels, which contain images of all the index cards listed on the STLGS database.

Index Card/Book/Microfilm Reel Cross-Reference, 2005

Missouri State Archives staff also produced a cross-reference document correlating the original court, record book, and page number found on the index cards with the corresponding record books microfilmed by the Missouri State Archives or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The list indicates the court, volume number, record book title, and date range covered by the microfilm. It also lists for direct reference the microfilm reel numbers for each record book located at the following research facilities:

  • Missouri State Archives in Jefferson City (MSA) www.sos.mo.gov/archives
  • St. Louis County Library-Special Collections Department (SCLC-SC) www.slcl.org/branches/hq/sc/
  • Family History Library in Salt Lake City (FHL) www.familysearch.org/
  • St. Louis Public Library-Local History and Genealogy Department. (SLPL-LHG) www.slpl.lib.mo.us/library.htm
  • Circuit Clerk, City of St. Louis www.stlcitycircuitcourt.com

The card/book/microfilm cross-reference is arranged by:

  1. Court (with index field listing court title as listed on cards)
  2. Volume number or letter
  3. Volume Title (including page numbers if the volume is on two reels)
  4. Beginning and ending dates of the records included in that volume
  5. Reel number for the Missouri State Archives in Jefferson City
  6. Reel number for the St. Louis County Library-Special Collections Department (official repository for St. Louis Genealogical Society research resources)
  7. Reel number for the Family History Library in Salt Lake City
  8. Reel number for the St. Louis Public Library-Local History and Genealogy Department (in most cases the same as the Missouri State Archives).
  9. Note: Reel number for the Circuit Clerk, City of St. Louis is not listed, but is the same as the Family History Library or the Missouri State Archives

Researchers can identify the appropriate reel of microfilm for the index card citation by comparing the volume numbers for the appropriate court and making sure the volume fits the date range on the index card, the date range for that person based on previous research, and the type of record (Declaration, Second Papers, Soldier Papers, or Minor) as reflected in the volume title, although many “Second Papers” volumes also include Soldier Papers and Minors.

Special Provenance and Court Title Note:

Index cards citing “CCCC” as the court refer to two different courts, one a successor of the other.

  1. The actual “CCCC”- the Circuit Court for Criminal Causes (1897-1980s) has only four volumes on the microfilm list. Indexers listed naturalization books prior to 1897 as CCCC because that was the name of the court at the time of creation of the index cards in the 1930s and 1940s.
  2. Criminal court record books and naturalization books for the period prior to establishment of the CCCC in 1897 were actually created in the Criminal Court, which was abolished at the end of 1896 and succeeded by the Circuit Court for Criminal Causes. The cross-reference list reinforces this important distinction.

Types of naturalization documents

Foreign-born persons could record the following naturalization actions in the record books of any court of record that had a clerk, a book, and a seal. Many of the record books to which the index cards refer are titled according to the type of naturalizations contained.

  1. Declaration of intention to become a citizen, followed by a waiting period before being admitted to citizenship. Most of these are dated and include a signature.
  2. Second or final papers that noted witnesses and admitted the person to citizenship, but most often do not contain signatures of those registering.
  3. Minor papers—second papers admitting persons to citizenship without a prior declaration wherein the person verified with witnesses that they had entered the United States as a minor and were thus ineligible to declare intention until they reached the age of majority (21 years). Minor naturalizations do not mean that they were minors at the time of naturalization.
  4. Soldier Papers—second papers admitting persons to citizenship without a prior declaration wherein the person verified that they had enlisted in and served the armed services of the United States and were honorably discharged. Congress enacted this provision beginning in 1862 partially as a recruitment tool and as a reward for foreign-born men who entered active military duty.

Still No Luck Finding Your Foreign-Born Person in the St. Louis Circuit Court?

Contact the Circuit Clerk, City of St. Louis to explore additional research options.

Contact:

Kathy Grillo, Records Manager
Civil Courts Building
10 North Tucker
St. Louis MO 63101
314-641-8309
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Key Area Resources for Naturalization beyond the Circuit Court

1. Federal naturalizations in St. Louis

Researchers should note that federal courts also registered naturalizations during the 19th century. The naturalization process became exclusively federal function as of September 27,1906. The Special Collections Department of the St. Louis County Library Headquarters has compiled an index covering 19th century and 20th century federal naturalizations from records in the National Archives Branch in Kansas City.

2. St. Louis City/ County Divided

Because St. Louis City and St. Louis County became separate administrative entities in 1876, naturalizations from 1876-1906 might have occurred in the St. Louis County Circuit Court in Clayton.

Naturalization books are on Family History Library Microfilm Reel #140552.
Contact:
Gail G. Wallis
Legal Administrative Assistant to the Circuit Clerk Circuit Court of St. Louis County
7900 Carondelet Clayton, MO 63105
314-615-8006
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3. Naturalization Papers at the Missouri Historical Society

The collection of naturalization papers (Collection A1125) provide additional documents for foreign-born persons who declared their intention to become a citizen. These document collections by Missouri Historical Society Archives staff. These applications are actual paper documents, not the record book entries. They are handwritten or on official forms from each court. These documents were registered in the St. Louis Circuit Court or its subsidiary courts—Court of Common Pleas, Land Court, Criminal Court, and Law Commissioner’s Court. This collection also contains naturalization documents generated in other states and cities for persons who had some connection to St. Louis persons or families.

Brief review of this collection revealed the following information to varying degrees on separate documents, depending on the court, the format of the application, and the time period. The applicants themselves, their attorneys, or the clerk of the court handwrote many of these, so they provide additional details. Not all documents contain each of these items.

  • Name of person applying for citizenship
  • Date of application
  • Birthplace (sometimes the actual village)
  • Birth date
  • Age
  • Nation of origin
  • Allegiance
  • Country from which they emigrated
  • Intended place of residence (not all St. Louis)
  • Date of birth
  • Occupation
  • Name of vessel on which they came to United States
  • Port of immigration
  • Signature of person declaring intention
  • Signature of clerk of court

The naturalization papers are arranged in folders for each letter of the alphabet of the surnames of the applicants.Researchers can find individual or family names by consulting the Archives Card Catalog.
In addition to the Naturalization Papers Collection, naturalization papers sometimes can be found in the numerous collections of personal and family papers in the Missouri Historical Society Archives.
These naturalizations are often indexed in the Archives Card Catalog at the
Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center
225 South Skinker Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63112
Cite as: Naturalization Papers Collection, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis.

Please contact the Archives with questions concerning the collections at (314) 746-4510 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Mailing address:
Missouri Historical Society
P.O. Box 11940
St. Louis, MO 63112-0040

*This finding aid produced by the staff of the Missouri State Archives.

 

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