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Lawrence County Historical Society

Virtual Museum

Welcome to the Lawrence County Historical Society Virtual Museum

We currently offer a searchable index from the LCHS Immigration Collection.
The index is for Declarations of Intention for the Court of Common Pleas in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.
The contents cover the period between October 22, 1906 to July 13, 1972.

Melting
Pot Project

declaration of intention sample 1906

Project
Team

search
index

How To Use the Search INDEX

The Search Index is listed alphabetically by last name. Click the button to open the search index.

To search from a desktop computer use Ctrl+F or CMD+F in your browser and then type the name of the individual for whom you are researching. To search from a tablet or mobile phone, after opening the Search Index, use your device’s page search feature. The Search Index opens in a new window. This makes it easier to return to this window and access the Request form listed below.

You can submit a request to obtain a copy of the original Declaration of Intention. Use our request form. It is posted below this section.

The Declaration of Intention is a formal document that is filled out by the Court Clerk of the Common Pleas. It can be handwritten or typewritten. The document contains many details such as: name, age, occupation; a personal description which includes color, complexion, height, weight, color of hair, color of eyes, other visible distinctive marks. It also lists place of birth, birth date, current city of residence, city and country they emigrated from, on what vessel, last foreign residence city and county, (marital status and spousal information is included on some documents), location and date of port of arrival in the USA, as well as sworn statements. The document is dated and contains the signatures of both the declarant and the court clerk.

The Declaration of Intention is considered the “first papers” in the immigration process. Accuracy of this information is based on what was provided by the applicant and recorded by the clerk. Note that many of the names may be phonetic spellings. Additionally, origins of birth may have been within another country due to the fluctuation of borders.

Once you have located the person(s) of interest to you in the Search Index, use our Virtual Museum Document Request Form listed below. We charge a fee (in US dollars) which helps pay for our time to locate the specific record and to provide the copy to you either through USPS mail or in digital format via email. We only ask for payment after you have submitted your request and been in communication with a LCHS representative. We thank you for your support of our digitizing project and research efforts.

CLICK HERE to see our FEE SCHEDULE

Melting Pot Project Team
Declarations of Intention

Claudia Richard Manly
Kathi Didiano Wisniewski
Elaine Cooper Chambers
Mary Ann Akstulewicz Henley
Andrew W. Henley, MLIS
Elizabeth Hoover DiRisio
J. Ryan Armstrong
Krystina Rothhaar
Kathleen A. Mooney, PhD

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About the Melting Pot Project

The Melting Pot Project is an ongoing mission of the LCHS to digitize all documents related to immigration in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. The current Search Index features Declarations of Intention.

The Declarations of Intention consists of twenty (20) volume and includes all of the Court of the Common Pleas’ Declarations of Intentions submitted between October 22, 1906 to July 13, 1972. These papers are considered the “first papers” in the immigration process. In order to apply for citizenship, individuals must have resided in the United States of America for two (2) years prior to applying for citizenship.

Three years after the Declarations of Intention were submitted, the aliens could submit their “second papers”, known as their Petition for Naturalization. After their petition was granted, a certificate of citizenship was issued to the new citizen.[1]

Our collection of Declarations of Intention is not all inclusive; it does not include Lawrence County residents who made their declarations in the federal and circuit courts; additionally, declarations filed previous to 1906 are available for the county and are not in our online collection. The data found within Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) records were self-reported.[2]

Note that many immigrants did not complete the immigration process and only filed their Declaration of Intention (First Papers). Additionally, the location of naturalization is not uniform nor universal, meaning that an individual could have started or completed their naturalization process elsewhere. Additional research can be obtained at the Lawrence County Historical Society. CLICK HERE to use our Request Form (fee schedule is posted on the form).

In addition to the Declarations of Intention, the Immigration Collection consists of thirty-nine (39) volumes of Petitions for Naturalization dating from November 1906 to February 1961. The collection was placed on permanent loan from the Lawrence County Prothonotary’s Office, originally loaned by former Prothonotary, Helen Morgan.

REFERENCES

[1] “Naturalization Records”, National Archives & Records Administration, Accessed September 1, 2021, https://www.archives.gov/research/immigration/naturalization
[2] Elizabeth Burnes, “Re: Form submission from Contact Us (andrew.henley@phhist.com) on Monday, October 18, 2021 – 12:16pm”, Email, 20 October 2021, 8:30 AM.

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