Once Polish immigrants settled in Minnesota, it became important to apply for citizenship. Historically, the naturalization process had two steps: 

  1. Declaration of Intent: Also called “First Papers” or “Declaration of Intent,” this step generally could be completed after a person had lived in the United States for at least 2 years.  
  2. Final Papers: Also called “Petition for Naturalization” or “Petition and Record,” this is the step that actually granted full citizenship, usually 3-5 years after the first papers were signed.

Prior to September of 1906, petitioners could go to any court to apply for citizenship. After that date, the Federal court took over the naturalization process and the application form became much more detailed.

Declaration of Intent from 1881

Example from an ancestor of Paula Colwell who settled in Winona from Kashubia – very basic information.

Declaration of Intent from 1915

Example from an ancestor of Bob Kraska who settled in Minneapolis from Galicia – became much more detailed after 1906.

Petition for Naturalization from 1920

Example from the same ancestor of Bob Kraska, which granted him full citizenship – even more detailed.

Book about Naturalization

Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States
by Kristine K. Schaefer, 2004

PGS-MN Newsletter Articles

(You will need to scroll down to the page indicated to find the article within the newsletter link)

Summer 200810Presentation on Naturalization
by Emilie Trushenski
Summer 201617How They Became Citizens
by Jay Biedny