Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Circuit Court of Cook County Archives on-line

            I recently visited the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives on-line at http://www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org/NR/about.aspx.  I found it by chance via a Google search.   
            I found a few people I was looking for in the database search, downloaded the form, completed it and mailed it, per instructions on the web site, with my check.  I was totally surprised to receive it back with the documents in about a week!   I received a copy of the original Declaration of Intent which was loaded with details I did not have before:  the ship of arrival, the ports of departure and arrival, place of birth and physical description with “visible distinctive marks” (in this case a birthmark on the left cheek).

What I received in the mail

Here is the detail from the web site:
The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Archives is home to more than 500,000 naturalization petitions covering the years 1871 to 1929. More than 400,000 of these records are Declarations of Intention, 1906-1929 which were usually the first papers to be filed by those who wished to become U.S. citizens.
Because the Declaration may be the only public record of an individual immigrant, it is a significant source of documentation for genealogists and scholars.
Also, taken as a whole, the Declarations of Intention document the social changes of the immigrant experience during this era and so can be of interest to scholars and researchers from many disciplines.
This database of Declarations of Intention was created thanks to a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a division of the National Archives.

Where do I find records filed before 1906 and after 1929?
For records filed before 1906 in Cook County refer to the following Clerk of the Circuit Court Archive web page:
After 1929, the local Cook County courts stopped granting naturalizations, and the task was given entirely to the Federal Courts. To find local naturalizations after 1929, please contact a local branch of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Chicago is served by NARA Great Lakes Region. You can find them here:  http://www.archives.gov/great-lakes/.

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