Declaration of Intent

Brief Overview

A declaration of intent for Herman K.Gronbech,1893.

94.108.20-Gift of Agda Harlow.

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A declaration of intent is the record by which an applicant for U.S. citizenship declared their intent to become a citizen and renounced their allegiance to a foreign government.

A declaration of Intent might open up a whole host of possibilities for an early immigrant. In the U.S. any immigrant who had filed an intent to become a citizen could claim 160 acres of unoccupied government land, homestead it, and earn title in five years in accordance with the Homestead Act of 1862.

The Declaration of Intention requirement ended in 1952 (although immigrants can still file a declaration if they want to).

Beginning with 1795 a person could declare their intent to become a citizen at any time after they arrived in the United States. A few people did this almost immediately upon arrival but a Declaration of Intention normally preceded proof of residence or a petition to become a citizen by two or more years.

Before September 1906 the records will usually have: name, country of birth or allegiance and date of the application. Some (but very few) show the date and port of arrival in the US.

After September 26, 1906 much more detailed information was given including place of birth and port and date of arrival.

This might help you in your search for a ships manifest or passenger list.