Aliens serving in the US military did not gain citizenship through service
alone. The naturalization of soldiers was performed under certain provisions of
nationality law facilitating the naturalization of members of the US armed
forces. These provisions waived the Declaration of Intention requirement and
waived or reduced the residency requirement. Thus many soldiers filed petitions and
were naturalized the same day.
The expedited naturalization of soldiers could have been performed at
either a Federal, State or local court having jurisdiction over the soldier's military
base, or a judge from any of those courts might have held "naturalization court" at
the military base. In either case, one copy of the petition should be on file in the
court's records. Another copy was filed with the Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS), which holds duplicate copies of all naturalizations granted after
September 26, 1906.
To locate a World War I soldier's naturalization, begin by searching the
Index to Naturalizations of World War I Soldiers. 1918, among the Records of the
Immigration and Naturalization Service and microfilmed as M1952. Note: Not all
US military bases are included on this index.
If the soldier's name appears in the index file, the index card will contain the
soldier's name, date of naturalization, court of naturalization (indicated by court
number), certificate number, and name of the military base to which the soldier was
assigned as of that date. The court number can be converted to the name of an actual
court (i.e. US District Court, Trenton, NJ) by reference to the Directory of Courts
having Jurisdiction in Naturalization Proceedings.*
If the soldier's name does not appear in the index file, the researcher may
file a Freedom of Information/Privacy Act request to the Headquarters, Bureau of
Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), Washington, D.C. 20536, using
Form G-639 (identifying the soldier by name, date of birth, and place of birth). A
search of BCIS records will be determine whether the alien ever naturalized
anywhere in the United States, under military or any other provision of US nationality law.
*Directory of Courts Having Jurisdiction in Naturalization Proceedings, US Department of Justice, 1963. A microfilm copy of this publication is available through the Family History Library, film #1730286.