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Bureau of Naturalization Correspondence files (1906-1944)

NARA Record Group 85, Entry 26

(ARC Identifier 563066 / MLR Number A1 26, A1 26-A )

Location: National Archives (NARA), Washington, DC

Finding Aids: Subject Index to Correspondence and Case Files of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (NARA microfilm publication T-458), Name Index to Bureau of Naturalization Correspondence Files, 1906-1946 (NARA microfilm publication A3388)               

With the creation of the Naturalization Service in 1906, a parallel series of subject correspondence files was created specifically for nationality matters. The naturalization series contains detailed files on policy, program, and administrative topics and provides the type of rich documentation for nationality matters that the 56,000 series does for immigration matters. The naturalization series also includes a vast number of files containing correspondence from immigrants and citizens who had questions about their nationality status or nationality policy in general. The naturalization correspondence series closed in 1944. After that date, INS filed program, policy, and administrative files in the 56,000 series and documents related to the cases of individual immigrants in the immigrants’ A-files. 

Today all of the surviving Bureau of Naturalization Correspondence files are part of RG 85. The majority of the files fall into Entry 26 but several smaller entries include additional material, most notably Entries 30-34 which contain correspondence and program material related to the service’s Citizenship Education Programs.

Though the file numbers for the naturalization series appear similar to that of the 56,000 series, the naturalization series system differs significantly in that the initial file number corresponds to a particular topic. For example, all the files in 35/ series relate to the general topic of “soldiers and sailors.” To locate all files on a subject created 1906 to 1944, researchers should identify to the appropriate subject code.  A list of known subject codes is available from the USCIS History Office. Like the 56,000 series, the naturalization series are indexed by the T-458 (see above).  The index points to specific file numbers, allowing for targeted research within subject headings.  The series is also referenced by a name index which includes headings for all individuals with whom the Naturalization Service had correspondence during the years 1906-1944. NARA has assigned the index microfilm publication number A3388 (Bureau of Naturalization Correspondence Index). A copy of the A3388 name index is also available for use in the USCIS History Office.   

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