How can I find NYC naturalization papers with only the record number? #general

Corey Brand

Shavua Tov! My great great grandma was Lena Levy. Her maiden name was always spelled many ways, like Wanzel, Wentzel, Weitzel, etc. In 1908, a Meier Wentzel sailed seek Sadie Odze, Lena’s sister, at the correct address. Because the last name was always spelled differently, I don’t know what his American name would be, plus he most likely would’ve chosen an American first name. Luckily, on the passenger manifests, there is a notation for a naturalization record: 2-1021256    2/4/43 (404). I know the 2 at the beginning implies NYC. How can I find his naturalization record purely with that notation and without searching for his name? By the 40s, the family lived in Coney Island, Brooklyn. I have no other records for Meier besides his passenger lists and the detained passenger lists. Thank you very much,

Corey Brand 
Fort Lauderdale, FL

David Oseas


There is a good write-up on manifest markings, written by Marian L. Smith (Historian emeritus, USCIS), on JewishGen:

Starting in 1926, the INS required verification of the information on the Petition for Naturalization against passenger manifests, over concern for fraud during the naturalization process. 

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can do with the number that you cite:  it indicates that your relative filed to receive a "Certificate of Arrival" in the New York district (2-) in February, 1943.  There is no index to the CofA numbers.  For the people that I've researched, the verification was done anywhere from a year prior, up to two weeks before filing a petition, though the average is about one month prior.

The (404) [or a (505) notation] indicates that the information on the petition differed sufficiently from the manifest that the clerk was unable to certify that this was the correct person.  In my research, I have found that only a few passengers with a 404 or 505 notation went on to successfully naturalize.

Immigrants typically Americanized their names during the naturalization process and this information is recorded within the documentation.  Most naturalization indexes contain both the original name upon arrival, and the new name that the citizen will be using.  The name Meier frequently became Max in the US.

Starting in 1940, aliens residing in the US were required to file an Alien Registration form.  For people that did not become citizens before 1944, those forms were used to start an A-File with the INS.

You may find that a USCIS index search ( ) will be fruitful -- for a (currently) $65 fee, they will search their indexes to see if they can locate a C-File or an A-File for your relative.  Based on the results of the search, you can request copies of the records (currently, an additional $65), or may even be able to locate them yourself.

David Oseas

KLEIN: Satoraljaujhely (Ujhely), Hungary > New York > Los Angeles
OSEAS/OSIAS/OSIASI/OZIAS: Iasi, Romania > Chicago > Milwaukee > Los Angeles
SCHECHTER/SHEKTER: Kishinev, Bessarabia > New York  
SHERMAN: Iasi, Romania > New York > Los Angeles
STECKER: New York > Florida
STRUL:  Iasi, Romania > Haifa, Israel
WICHMAN: Syczkowo (Bobruisk), Belarus > Milwaukee > Los Angeles

Ina Getzoff

I believe after 1906 most naturalizations were done in a Supreme Court. Do you know what year your gg grandmother might have been naturalized since they came her in 1908 and where they might have lived? If you have an answer to that question it is a good place to start. Also, as far as her name-remember-in genealogy spelling doesn't count and names can be spelled more ways than we think. 
Good luck
Ina Getzoff
Delray Beach, Fla


Any federal court could conduct naturalizations; the process didn't require a "Supreme Court"

--Yale Zussman

A. E. Jordan

Here's a sort of primer on naturalization records for New York City.
Naturalizations in the New York City area happened either in the Federal or State courts up until the 1920s.  The Federal courts were the Eastern District which is in Brooklyn and the Southern district which is in Manhattan.  There's also a Northern district north of the City.
The State courts are named the Supreme Court and there was a location in each of the boroughs.
Here's where it gets challenging.  There was no residency requirement meaning you could live in Brooklyn but work in Manhattan and so you decided it was easier to go to the Manhattan court to file your papers or any combination of courts.  Also there was no rule that I am aware of the governed going to the State vs. Federal court.
And to make it even more challenging in some rare instances the person started the process in one court and then moved and decided it as easier to finish the process in another court closed to where they now lived.  To use a 21st century term, the naturalization was portable.  As a matter of fact I was jut helping someone last week who had the declaration number for their ancestor and when we pulled up the online record attached to the declaration is a letter saying a duplicate had been made and when you look at the two you see he was in Manhattan when he started the process but was in Brooklyn when he was requesting the copy which leads to he assumption he finished it in the Brooklyn courts.
Ancestry, FamilySearch, Fold3, the Italian and German gen pages all have indexing to parts of the naturalization process.  I personally like the Italian/German gen index but you have to search all of them sometimes.
The 1925 NY State Census asked people what court they have naturalized in so you often find little notes on the names but of course it is not always accurate.
Also on the later passenger lists you often find a notation with the date and a number that is a clue to when and where the person naturalized.  I had one several years ago and no one seemed capable of deciphering it including NARA.  Marion Smith ended up helping me and it turned out the man had done his naturalization in Westchester County.
FamilySearch had a lot more of the naturalization papers from NYC than what they have indexed.  The images are loaded but you have to manually search the files using the petition number.  An easy way to see what exists is go to the National Archives NYC website and click on their naturalization records.    It will bring up a table called "Our Holdings" and on the far right side is a link that generally jumps to the files on FamilySearch.  Thee good news --- although it is years away -- NARA is funding a project to digitize more of the local court records from the State courts.
Most of the local courts will do mail order copies (once of course the current public health crisis is lifted) if you can not find the record online at one of the databases mentioned above.  In Manhattan the original books are sitting on the shelves of the old court record room (7th floor in the same building as the Municipal Archives)  and they let you pull them out and take photos on your phone.  Hidden away on the 8th floor and the supervisor has to get it are the original ledger index books and he also has the originals of cases where people did a declaration but never came back to do a petition.  Those incomplete files are in separate books from the ones where the person completed the process. 
NARA also will do copies but normally when you go to NARA in NYC (they are closed due to the health crisis) they will first point you to the computer resources I am mentioning here.  NARA NYC has the original paper files for the records after the digital indexes so if it is post-World War II for example you need to get it from them on paper.  If you go in person they only pull records hourly a few times a day but the charge is only 25 cents a page but has to be paid by credit card .... they stopped handling cash years ago.
Allan Jordan