United States Naturalization Records in Nebraska Collection

We now have 118 archives in our Nebraska collection. Most of these archives are Swedish American congregation records but not all are church records. One interesting collection in the Nebraska archives consists of declarations of intention, petitions for naturalization and final papers for United States citizenship. These records are from the District Court of Polk County in Osceola, Nebraska.

The process for United States citizenship was generally a two-step process. After a person lived in the U.S. for two years, the person could file a “declaration of intention” to become a citizen. After three additional years, the person could file a petition for naturalization. After the petition was granted, the person was given a certification of naturalization and became a citizen. Click here for more information about the naturalization process.

These applications for citizenship primarily the “declaration of intention” are often used to help a person identify where their ancestor came from in Sweden. Below is the declaration of intention for Axel Theodore Norstrom.

declaration of intentionDistrict Court of Polk County, Osceola, Nebraska, USA (NE) Vol:1 (1907-1922) Image 47 / page 33 (AID: v896407.b47.s33, NAD) Link.

The “declaration of intention” includes such information as physical description, age, occupation, birth date and birth place, emigration place, often name of ship along with date of arrival and arrival port.

In the above record dated 18th of January 1909 we see that Axel was born in Skinnskatteberg parish in Sweden on the 10th of September 1863. He is now living in Stromsberg, Nebraska. The record states that he emigrated from Göteborg, Sweden on the ship, Arabic, and arrived in the port of Boston, Massachusetts on the 14th of October 1905. His last residence in Sweden is Malma. (Note – in the declaration of intention it looks like Malmo but as we do more research, we discover that the last residence in Sweden is in the parish of Malma in Västmanland county).

With the above information, we can jump into the Swedish church book records and verify the information on the declaration of intention. We can search for the birth books for Skinnskatteberg parish and look for his birth record in 1863. Below is his birth record.

norstroms birth recordSkinnskatteberg (U) C:11 (1862-1878) Image 26 (AID: v74059.b26, NAD: SE/ULA/11336) Link.

We can follow him in the household books from the time of his birth until his emigration. Below is the household record showing him emigrating from Malma parish in Västmanland county to America in 1905. You notice that his Swedish name is “Axel Teodor Norström” and the American version is ” Axel Theodore Norstrom”.

norstrom hfl emigration recordMalma (U) AII:2 (1902-1914) Image 150 / page 3 (AID: v263759.b150.s3, NAD: SE/ULA/11056) Link.

You can find the “declarations of intentions” in the District Court Polk County, Nebraska Archives in ArkivDigital by doing the following:

  • Select New Archive search.
  • Select county, Nebraska.
  • Select District Court of Polk County, Osceola, Nebraska USA archive.
  • Select the book with the years that you are interested in.
  • Each book contains a name register in the front of the book.

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Photographs of Released Prisoners

freed prisoner
Kriminalpolisen i Malmö FIa:7 (1882-1882) Image 154 / page 143 (AID: v97414.b154.s143, NAD: SE/MSA/00453) Link.

As a researcher, it is often easy to find many written documents about one’s ancestors. On the other hand, it is often difficult to know what they looked like or to find a portrait. If you happen to have an ancestor who was a criminal, you may be in luck. Many of the earliest Swedish photographs show prisoners.

You will find a number of volumes titled, “Portrait of released prisoners” in the archive Kriminalpolisen i Malmö. These volumes include portraits of prisoners released from prisons throughout Sweden for the period 1876-1910. You can find a name searchable register of the released prisoners on the Swedish side of our website by clicking here.

In the picture above we see the laborer, Carl Jakob Åström, who was released from Långholmen prison in 1882. While the photo is in black and white, a physical description of the prisoner is written to the left of the photo. Here we see that Carl has brown hair (här: brunt), blue eyes (ögon: blå), straight nose (näsa: rak), ordinary mouth (mun: ordinär), pale skin (hy: blek), 5.45 feet tall (höjd: 5.45 fot) and a strong body build (kroppsbyggnad: stark). On the top of the page you will find more details about Carl’s life along with information about the crime that he committed. In this case, it was his fourth time for stealing.

Read the blog entry in Swedish.

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