secthead Resources

Research Guides

Research Guide to Immigration and Naturalization Records

Immigrants to the United States arrived in various locations, and finding immigration and naturalization records can sometimes be a challenge. Until 1820, few immigration records were kept, with the exception of arrival lists at the Ports of Boston (1712, 1715-1716, 1762-1769) and Philadelphia (1727 to 1808). The naturalization process, the legal process whereby an alien becomes a U.S. citizen, began in 1790. Please note that naturalization papers could be filed at any court of record (county, state, or federal).

The historical society holds microfilm copies of Lancaster County Naturalization Petition Rolls, 1800-1916 and 1929-1991, Lancaster County Naturalization Notes of Testimony Rolls, 1917-1940, and Lancaster County Naturalization Declarations, 1920s-1979.

The additional sources listed below are found in the reading room.

  • Adams, Alphabetical Index to Ulster Emigration to Philadelphia, 1803-1850 (929.3 A216)
  • Ancestry Library Edition (available via public terminals)
  • Bockstruck, Denizations and Naturalizations in the British Colonies in America (929.37 B665)
  • Boyer, ed., Ship Passenger Lists: National and New England, 1600-1825 (929.3 B789n)
  • Boyer, ed., Ship Passenger Lists: New York and New Jersey, 1600-1825 (929.3 B789ny)
  • Boyer, ed., Ship Passenger Lists: Pennsylvania and Delaware, 1641-1825 (929.3 B789)
  • Boyer, ed., Ship Passenger Lists: The South, 1538-1825 (929.3 B789s)
  • Dunn, ed., Index to Pennsylvania's Colonial Records Series (974.8004 D923)
  • Filby, ed., Philadelphia Naturalization Records: An Index to Records of Aliens' Declarations of Intention and/or Oaths of Allegiance, 1789-1880 in United States Circuit Court, United States District Court, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Quarter Sessions Court, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia (929.33 F479pnr)
  • Filby, ed., Passenger and Immigration Lists Bibliography, 1538-1900: Being a Guide to Published Lists of Arrivals in the United States and Canada (929.3 F479p) [Library holds v1 (1981) through the 2008 supplement. The same information is available in searchable format via Ancestry Library Edition.]
  • Glazier, ed., Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports (929.3 G373)
  • Grubb, ed., German Immigrant Servant Contracts Registered at the Port of Philadelphia, 1817-1831 (929.3 G885)
  • Index to Naturalizations, 1800-1897, for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (LC 929.33 I38)
  • Myers, Quaker Arrivals at Philadelphia, 1682-1750: Being a List of Certificates of Removal Received at Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (929.3 M996)
  • Rupp, ed., A Collection of Upwards of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French, and other Immigrants in Pennsylvania from 1727-1776 (929.3 R946 1980)
  • Schaefer, Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States (929.373 S294)
  • Strassburger, Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808 (974.802812 S894)
  • Szucs, They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins (929.1 S998)
  • Tepper, American Passenger Arrival Records: A Guide to the Records of Immigrants Arriving at American Ports by
    Sail and Steam
    (929.3 T314a)
  • Tepper, ed., Emigrants to Pennsylvania 1641-1819: A Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists from the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (974.80281 T315)
  • Tepper, ed., Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia, 1800-1819: The Philadelphia Baggage Lists (929.3 P287)

Our Blogs

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While working with the object collections of we come across many questions.  Visit here to see some of the more unusual stories that we have uncovered.

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Historically Speaking


The staff and volunteers of the Archives Department at never know what they'll find when working on the documents and records in the collections.  Fortunately, when they do discover something noteworthy they are very willing to share!

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Marianne's PhotoBlog


Because pictures are worth a thousand words, but sometimes they need an interpreter.

You know that cliché about a picture being worth a thousand words? Ok, well, imagine the stories going on in my head after cataloging several hundred photos every single day!

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Wheatland: A Love Story

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One Young Lady, One Old House, Two Hundred Years of History

I’m Jennifer Walton, Museum Associate at President James Buchanan's Wheatland, and I love an old President and his old house! Over the past nine years, I’ve learned quite a lot about both, and I would love to share it with you!

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