Certificates of Naturalization

Many immigrants who come to the United States decide that they would like to become citizens of the USA. United States citizens have the right to vote in elections. They also have many legal rights. In the following exercise, students are able to look at early Certificates of Naturalization in order to see how people became citizens of the United States. Handwriting on old documents may be difficult for students to read at first. Students may need additional help from the teacher.

1. Show students copies of the Certificates of Naturalization. (Found here.) Students may work in cooperative groups.

2. Ask students a series of questions about the documents they are examining.

Possible Questions for Students:

What is the name of the person being naturalized?

What country is he/she from?

This person is asked to "renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign Prince, Potentate, State or Sovereignty whatsoever..." What does this mean? Why would a citizen of the United States be asked to do this?

This person is also asked to give his “solemn oath” to “support the Constitution of the United States. ” What is an oath? Why is he asked to give his oath to the Constitution in order to become a U.S. citizen?

How many years did a person have to live in the United States before he could become a citizen?               
(Answer--5 years)

Would you be willing to do these things to become a United States citizen? Why or why not?


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society