Census Information

On some censuses, like the 1920 census there is a section called “Citizenship”.

Box 13 is for the year they immigrated to the US. Box 14 is naturalization or Alien. Box 15 is for the year the person was Naturalized.

Box 14 was the box that would drive me crazy for months. What did those abbreviations mean? One person had told me that the initials in the boxes were the states that the person was Naturalized in. Well that made sense at first because Al could stand for Alabama, PA, well as a Philly girl I knew that ment Pennsylvania. THEN I ran into the initials “NA” NA? That isn’t a state in the US. What was going on now?  “NA” Not available? Not applicable? I googled but couldn’t find the answer online so I just moved on and forgot about it.

However, a couple of weeks ago I found our Gr,Gr, Grandfather Graves’s. He was an immigrant from Prussia, and when I find him on the 1920 Census. Well, there was box 14 again with “NA” filled in. Now I had to know what it ment. So I hit twitter. I have friends who know the census backwards and forwards. Someone has to know what box 14 and the meaning of those abbreviations! Well thanks to my twitter friend @ArchivalBiz, I found out that “NA” means that the said person has been naturalized and my friend @seekingsurnames informed me that “PA” means they have filed their first papers. (I blush now to think that it stood for my home state).

So I hit google again and found this on about.com
Citizenship census code:

  • Al – Alien (not naturalized)
  • Pa – First papers filed (declaration of intent)
  • Na – Naturalized
  • NR – Not recorded or not reported

I hope this information will save some others from a headache. 🙂

I would also suggest to anyone just starting out in genealogy that you download and print out each blank census records from the following link. You will learn in your searches that not all census records are readable due to age or blurriness. Having a blank record on hand helps you to know exactly what you are looking at in each box.


7 thoughts on “Census Information

  1. Very timely, actually! I was wondering the same thing about NA. But I have another question: If the husband was NA does that mean the wife automatically was? He’s NA, but she isn’t.

    • I was reading something that said in the 1700’s children that were born to NA father’s were granted citizenships. I don’t remember reading anything about the wife though. Then in the middle of the 1800’s wives and children would automatically become NA though the husband/father. Then laws changed again in the 1920’s? That said an american wife could lose her own citzenship if the husband did not NA. Let me see if I can find that link for you. It was interesting.

    • Great source! This part of my family falls in the 1855-1922 period, so it appears his wife was considered NA because he was 🙂 I stuck that book on my wish list–I’m hoping to stick around on your blog, yeah 🙂

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