Philadelphia Courts Naturalization Index, 1790 - 1880


McMackin Petition

(Naturalization Petition of Neal Francis McMackin, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Petition #607, 23 September 1846)






The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania wishes to acknowledge the dedicated work of archivist, author, lecturer and professional lineage researcher, Jefferson M. Moak who created this database over the course of many years, and which he has generously donated to GSP.  We sincerely thank Mr. Moak for his continuing support of the genealogical community in the southeast Pennsylvania region.


This database contains over 101,000 references to Philadelphia Court Declarations of Intention and Naturalization Petitions.


GSP encourages those searching for their ancestors' Philadelphia County Declarations of Intention and Naturalization Petitions to thoroughly read the information below. Finding Philadelphia citizenship records can be some of the most complicated research you encounter, for three reasons:


  • Obtaining citizenship was a two-step process, thereby doubling the paper trail.


  • At one time or another there were ten courts processing citizenship papers in Philadelphia County.


  • The Works Progress Administration (WPA) and P. William Filby indexes on which we base our naturalization research in   Philadelphia contain inaccuracies in court designations. The WPA & Filby indexes are also missing Philadelphia Quarter Sessions Court petitions. These missing petitions constitute approximately 25,000 names not found in either previously published index but which are included here.


For a brief explanation of the citizenship process, click to read - GENERAL BACKGROUND TO CITIZENSHIP RECORDS







Green Bar Event Divider







The bulk of this Philadelphia Naturalization database was created by Jefferson M. Moak during his tenure as archivist at the Philadelphia City Archives, from 1987 to 2000. He continued additions and refinements to the database after the Philadelphia city archives staff completed indexing the Quarter Sessions Court petitions in 1986 & 1987. (As noted above: The Philadelphia Quarter Sessions Court Petitions were never included in the original WPA or subsequent P. William Filby indexes. Although the Quarter Sessions declarations were indexed, the Clerk of the Quarter Sessions Court refused to grant access to the Quarter Sessions petitions.)


Jefferson Moak has authored three articles for Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine which focus specifically on Philadelphia court declaration & naturalization records. These articles include the information needed by genealogical researchers to understand the inaccurate court designations found in the published WPA & Filby indexes.



"The WPA Index of Naturalizations: An Explanation" by Jefferson M. Moak, Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Volume XXXVI, 1989, No. 2


"Missing Entries from the WPA Index of Naturalizations" by Jefferson M. Moak, Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Volume XXXVII, 1991, No. 2


(Additional List - Naturalization Papers Missing from the Philadelphia City Archives HERE)


"The Political Side of Pre-Civil War Naturalizations" by Jefferson M. Moak, Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, Volume 41, Spring/Summer, 2000, No. 3




Residency Requirement

(Residency requirement stated within a petition.)



This is the most accurate index of Philadelphia County Court declarations and naturalizations known to exist; however, as with all such collections it's important to keep an open mind for variant surname spellings. And GSP does not claim that every person who ever applied for citizenship in a Philadelphia court is included here, rather that the information contained in this index comes closest to being as complete and accurate as possible for naturalizations in the Philadelphia County Courts for the time periods indicated. 


The initials “RG” following each court description below refers to the Record Group number of the collection housed at the Philadelphia Department of Records City Archives.




The following Philadelphia court records and record collection dates

are included in this database:




Common Pleas Court, Declarations: volumes 1821 – 1849 (RG 20.13)


District Court (Philadelphia County), Declarations: volumes 1811 – 1874 (Complete) (RG 22.8)


Criminal & General Sessions Court, Declarations: volumes 1839 – 1843 (Complete) (RG 24.4)


Mayor's Court, Declarations: volumes 1814 – 1838 (Complete) (RG 130.3)


Recorder's Court of the Northern Liberties, Spring Garden & Kensington Declarations: volumes 1836 – 1838 (Complete) (RG 26.2)


Quarter Sessions Court, Declarations: volumes 1810 – 1850 (RG 21.17)


Included also are miscellaneous loose declarations dating back to 1798.





Common Pleas Court Petitions: 1790 – 1862; 1863 – 1871 (A-K only) (RG 20.14)


Criminal Sessions Petitions: 1838 – 1840 (Complete) (RG 24.4)


District Court Petitions: 1811 – 1874 (Complete) (RG 22.9)


General Sessions Petitions: 1840 – 1843 (Complete) (RG 24.4)


Mayor's Court Petitions: 1794, 1802 – 1838 (Complete) (RG 130.3a)


Recorder's Court of the Northern Liberties, Spring Garden & Kensington Petitions: 1836 – 1837 (Complete) (RG 26.3)


Quarter Sessions Petitions: 1802-1880 (Complete; however, the index of petitions was originally entered by Philadelphia City Archives staff from the manuscript index. 1802-1851 was physically cross-checked against the original papers and declaration data added. This also involved consolidating separate declaration and petition indexes.) (RG 21.18)




Green Bar Event Divider








The historical declaration & naturalization record collections of Phiadelphia County courts are housed at the Philadelphia Department of Records City Archives. The City Archives is located at:


3101 Market Street, Suite 150, Philadelphia PA, 19104


You can visit the archives in person; they are open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM. Requests for copies will not be accepted after 4:30 PM. An alternative is to send a written request to the archives using the form below. The current fee for a copy of a naturalization file is $10.00 (US) per set, per name. 


To order a copy of a naturalization record from the Philadelphia Department of Records City Archives, click for the REQUEST FORM FOR PHILADELPHIA NATURALIZATION RECORDS and please follow the instructions for ordering and mailing on the form.


For more information visit the Philadelphia Department of Records City Archives website HERE, or phone 215-685-9401.



Edmund Hodgkins Phila. District Court Petition - 1864

(Philadelphia District Court Petition of Edmund Hodgkins, Minor, Granted 5 October 1864. Click on picture to view larger image.)



Related Publication:

Military Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in the Philadelphia [County] District Court, 1862-1874. Jefferson M. Moak, Ed. Philadelphia: Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.  Monograph Series No. 5.  2000


Related Online Record Collections:

FamilySearch (Free viewing with registration)-

Pennsylvania Eastern District Naturalization Indexes, 1795 - 1952 (Federal)

Pennsylvania Eastern District Petitions for Naturalizations, 1795 - 1931 (Federal)


Surrounding Philadelphia County Naturalization Records:

Bucks County - Office of Prothonotary, Naturalizations 1802 - 1906

Chester County - Archives Naturalization Indexes Online, 1798 - 1935

Delaware County - Archives, Naturalization Indexes Online, 1795 - 1990

Montgomery County - Historical Society, Naturalizations, 1817 - 1968


Green Bar Divider





  • If your query returns no results, the surname you searched for may not be an entry in the index, or may be entered with an alternate spelling. i.e. Martin "McHale" is recorded as Martin "McKale." Be creative.


  • If you’ve used the filters for your query and don’t get satisfactory results, try removing filters (one at a time, or all) and try again.


  • Please note: Not all fields for each entry are populated with information, for instance, every record does not have the year of entry recorded. Try a broader surname search without this filter.


  • When a list of results is returned, click on the word “More” in the far right column to see all information related to an index entry.



This collection is available only to members of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.

Click here to Become a Member

Existing members, Login here