City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Orleans Parish (La.) Criminal Courts
Naturalization records, 1853-1899
15 reels of 35mm microfilm

The criminal judicial jurisdiction for New Orleans has been vested in several different courts since Louisiana statehood in 1812. In the first judicial system, established in 1813, the courts of the various judicial districts were given criminal as well as civil jurisdiction. Orleans Parish was included in the First Judicial District. In 1818 the legislature established a Criminal Court of the City of New Orleans and abolished the criminal jurisdiction of the First Judicial District Court within the city. New legislation, passed in 1821, renamed the body as the Criminal Court of the First District.

With the reorganization of the Louisiana judiciary in 1846, the criminal jurisdiction for New Orleans was placed in the First District Court. That court also had civil jurisdiction until 1853 when an act of the legislature made it exclusively a criminal tribunal. A Superior Criminal Court for the Parish of Orleans was created in 1874 to handle certain criminal matters and coexisted with the First District Court until 1880 when the courts in New Orleans were again reorganized. The new arrangement put criminal jurisdiction into the hands of the Criminal District Court for Orleans Parish where it has remained to this day.

The first U.S. naturalization act, passed in 1790, established the practice of permitting naturalization of aliens in federal, state, or local courts. In New Orleans persons wishing to be naturalized could apply to the U.S. District Court, to the Louisiana Supreme Court, or to one of the parish civil or criminal courts. It may well be that such applications would be made at the court building that was most convenient to the residence or work place of the individual applicant. All of this changed in 1906 when the naturalization laws were changed to require application to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

"Naturalization records" include declarations of intentions to become a citizen ("first papers"), oaths of applicants and witnesses, and certificates of naturalization. These records were kept either in the minute books of the individual courts or in special volumes with printed forms. Aliens who entered the U.S. prior to their eighteenth birthdays were not required to file a declaration of intention and their certificates of naturalization were often recorded in separate "minors'" naturalization books. Women did not apply for naturalization, but attained citizenship "by right" of their fathers or husbands. Nor was there any requirement that aliens be naturalized prior to 1906; only if they wanted to vote or hold certain positions would they have to go through the procedure.

The naturalization records of the Orleans Parish criminal courts were apparently deposited by the Clerk of Criminal District Court with the American-Italian Renaissance Foundation in the 1970's. They were physically housed at the Special Collections Division of Tulane University's Howard-Tilton Memorial Library until their transfer to the Foundation's museum in the 1980's. While at Tulane the records were microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah.

At some point prior to the 1970's deposit the records were essentially arranged into two series, one of declarations (30 v.) and one of naturalizations (21 v.), and indexes were prepared for the individual volumes. This arrangement was not well done, with the result that there are unexplained overlaps between volumes in the declarations series and mixed provenance within the naturalizations series. The former would appear to require an examination of the original volumes to resolve, while an attempt has been made in the attached inventory to indicate the errors that were made in arrangement. The first three volumes in each series are missing.


INVENTORY

NOTE: The numbers in parenthesis following the dates below refer to the volume number assigned to each book by the court. These are the volume numbers referred to in the indexes.

VNL320
1880-1899

Louisiana. Criminal District Court for Orleans Parish (La.)
Declarations of intentions, 1880-1899.

v. 1 Index to volumes 1-12
v. 2 Index to volumes 13-30
v. 3 December 10, 1883 - March 20, 1884 (#4)
v. 4 March 19, 1884 - August 10, 1886 (#5)
v. 5 August 10, 1886 - October 13, 1887 (#6)
v. 6 August 10, 1886 - October 22, 1887 (#7)
v. 7 October 13, 1887 - January 4, 1888 (#8)
v. 8 October 24, 1887 - January 4, 1888 (#9)
v. 9 January 27, 1888 - October 9, 1890 (#10)
v. 10 January 17, 1888 - October 10, 1890 (#11)
v. 11 October 10, 1890 - October 30, 1891 (#12)
v. 12 October 13, 1890 - October 10, 1891 (#13)
v. 13 October 15, 1891 - April 6, 1892 (#14)
v. 14 October 15, 1891 - April 5, 1892 (#15)
v. 15 October 15, 1891 - April 1, 1892 (#16)
v. 16 April 7, 1891 - October 26, 1894 (#17)
v. 17 October 18, 1892 - October 6, 1894 (#18)
v. 18 October 23, 1894 - March 2, 1896 (#19)
v. 19 October 18, 1894 - February 13, 1896 (#20)
v. 20 November 14, 1894 - March 10, 1896 (#21)
v. 21 January 14, 1896 - March 10, 1896 (#22)
v. 22 October 30, 1891 - April 10, 1896 (#24)
v. 23 March 12, 1896 - September 6, 1897 (#25)
v. 24 March 16, 1896 - October 5, 1897 (#26)
v. 25 March 16, 1896 - November 8, 1897 (#27)
v. 26 October 16, 1897 - April 4, 1899 (#28)
v. 27 November 9, 1897 - January 13, 1899 (#29)
v. 29 November 19, 1897 - June 10, 1898 (#30)


VNL743
1853-1898

Louisiana. [Criminal Courts] (Orleans Parish)
Certificates of naturalization, 1853-1898

v. 1 Index to volumes 1-21
v. 2 December 30, 1853 - October 20, 1855 (#4) [First District Court]
v. 3 October 17, 1845 - June 16, 1846 (#5) [Criminal Court of the First District;
also includes First District Court for June 20 - Aug 2, 1865]
v. 4 August 3 - October 21, 1865 (#6) [First District Court]
v. 5 October 23, 1865 - August 6, 1868 (#7) [First District Court]
v. 6 August 10 - October 13, 1868 (#8) [First District Court]
v. 7 October 13, 1868 - October 17, 1870 (#9) [First District Court]
v. 8 October 18, 1870 - October 7, 1878 (#10) [First District Court, Soldiers & Marines]
v. 9 October 17, 1870 - September 14, 1872 (#11) [First District Court, Minors]
v. 10 October 17, 1870 - June 21, 1873 (#12) [First District Court, Adults]
v. 11 September 16, 1872 - November 6, 1872 (#13) [First District Court, Minors]
v. 12 July 8 - October 15, 1874 (#14) [First District Court, Minors]
v. 13 July 28, 1874 - September 18, 1878 (#15) [First District Court, Minors]
v. 14 September 24, 1874 - October 31, 1878 (#16) [First District Court, Adults]
v. 15 September 14 - October 22, 1874 (#17) [Superior Criminal Court]
v. 16 September 12, 1874 - November 25, 1870 (#18) [Superior Criminal Court]
v. 17 October 15, 1874 - Feb 27, 1880 (#19) [Superior Criminal Court, Minors]
v. 18 June 17, 1895 - August 19, 1898 (#20) [Criminal District Court, Adults]
v. 19 July 27, 1898 (#21) [Criminal District Court, Minors]


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