The Path to Citizenship

Warren County naturalization papers

Warren County naturalization papers

As Warren County becomes more diverse in ethnicity and language, a collection of naturalization papers in WKU’s Special Collections Library reminds us that for more than a century and a half, immigrants have sought homes in southcentral Kentucky.

Taken from county court records and processed by manuscripts technician Taryn Rice, the papers date from 1837-1907.  Sometimes issued in other states, the documents were required to be deposited at the courthouse in the individual’s county of residence.  Most contain full details of the immigrant’s name, country and city of origin, and length of residence in the United States.

The countries of western Europe–England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Germany–as well as Russia, Poland, Italy, Austria and Scandinavia–are well represented by 125 immigrants with names such as O’Sullivan, Blumm, Rausher, Unkleman, Maguire and Duff.  Each declares his or her intention to “renounce and forever abjure all allegiance to any foreign prince or potentate” on the way to becoming an American citizen.  For good measure, the most recent claimant on the immigrant’s loyalty–whether Queen Victoria, Emperor Napoleon, Nicholas of Russia, the King of Bavaria or the Grand Duke of Oldenburg–is also named.

A finding aid for Warren County Court Records–Naturalization Papers can be downloaded by clicking here.  For more on our collections, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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