Today marks the 80th anniversary of Max Schellhardt’s naturalization as a U.S. citizen!
Naturalization is a voluntary process by which an alien/immigrant becomes an American citizen. Immigrants who had declared their intention (declaration of intention or “first papers”) to become U.S. citizens and who had lived in the United States continuously for five years could petition the court – county or Federal – to grant them U.S. citizenship. The court used the information on the petition to determine whether the petition should be granted or denied. If it was granted, the immigrant became a naturalized citizen.
Max filed his petition with the U.S. District Court at Philadelphia in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. On March 22, 1933, his petition was granted.
This image is the card from the index to the naturalization petitions. There are some interesting tidbits of information – Max’s address at the time of his petition, his age, and, of course, his signature. Remember when Max arrived in 1924? He was a young, single, 18 year old kid from Germany. By 1933, he was 27 years old and a married father of three sons trying to live the American dream.
From a records perspective, the most important thing is the petition number. Once you have the petition number, you can obtain the actual naturalization petition. Unfortunately, petitions post 1930 have not been digitized (long story) so unless someone else was able to get a copy in the past, I have to wait until my colleague at the National Archives in Philadelphia responds to my email. In the meantime, we’ll have to make do with this image of the index card.
Let's all join in to wish Max a happy naturalization day!