Established in 1992, the Archives Department collects, preserves, and makes available to researchers the non-current records created by the Cook County Court systems.
Use this engine to search the first papers or declaration of intention filed by those who wished to become U.S. citizens.
This section is an online exhibit hall featuring information about some of our most famous (or notorious) case holdings.
Instructions and forms for requesting searches of naturalization documents.
Instructions and forms for requesting searches of archival court case files.
Provide us with specific information (e.g., dates, names, type of case, etc.). Our staff cannot carry out broad searches (i.e., every file about the Smith family, or every file about Prohibition). We must find a case number in order to locate a file.
To do this we search indices, or lists, for names of plaintiff(s) and defendant(s). These indices are formatted by date and type of case. We must search for the correct spelling of a name and the correct date(s) to find the case number of the record you want! (If you have the case number, we do not need to search for it.)
Case files are stored off-site (except for naturalization records). We usually receive case files within a week of ordering.
Records and Archives
COOK COUNTY CLERK OF CIRCUIT COURT
Room 1113, Richard J. Daley Center
50 W. Washington
Chicago, IL 60602
Important Information about Naturalization Records
All naturalization records created in the Cook County Courts from 1871 to 1903 DO NOT contain the following data:
•Date and town of birth
•Ports of departure and arrival
•Vessel of passage
•Information about wife and children
Information contained on the Soundex cards for pre-1904 Cook County naturalization records reflects almost all of the information contained in the actual records. The only exception occurs if the declaration of intent was filed in a non-Cook County court that required more specific information from the petitioner.
Declarations are usually attached to petitions in Cook County naturalization records. Pre-1904 declarations are not kept separately. Items marked “Court Order Only” on Soundex cards refer to the court order signed by the judge that naturalized the individual when the petition and declaration for that individual are no longer in existence.
Naturalization records from 1904 to October 1906 should, but DO NOT always, contain the following data:
•Town of birth
•Date of birth
•Date of arrival
•Port of arrival and departure
Naturalization records from October 1906 to 1929 reveal the same information as earlier records (1904 to October 1906) as well as the following data:
•Wife’s name and date of birth (sometimes wife’s town of birth)
•Children’s names, dates of birth, and town of birth
•Physical description of petitioner (on declarations only)
Local Cook County courts stopped granting naturalizations in 1929.
Before 1906 wives and children were not named on naturalization papers of husbands or fathers, but they did receive derivative U.S. citizenship through these men. Only after September 22, 1922 did the law require married women to file for naturalization on their own.
On Soundex cards, the word “minor” next to the certificate number does not imply that the petitioner naturalized as a minor. Rather, this term denotes that the person arrived in the U.S. as a minor and then became a citizen sometime after reaching the age of 18 years. The Soundex cards often give the number of years the “minor” resided in the U.S. before naturalizing. Minors DID NOT file declarations of intention, and “minor” petitions provide virtually no genealogical information.
Due to the fact that declarations of intention (“first papers”) are haphazardly indexed, our staff cannot allot time to search for those specific records. Unless the individual filed a “minor’s petition” (see above), the declaration of intention is included with the petition (“second papers”).
Please read before requesting an offline search
Naturalization Search Form
View All Archives Department Frequently Asked Questions