Skip to Main Content

The Town & the City: Lowell before and after The Civil War

Originally created to be a digital archive for Lowell documents from 1826 to 1861, this website has grown to cover many periods and events in Lowell's history.

Lowell Police Court Naturalization Records

Lowell Police Court

Naturalization Records

1838-1854; 1885-1906

The Naturalization records of the Lowell Police Court prior to September 1906 are broken into two major groups, each with several series.

Group I: 1838-1854

       Arranged annually by Volumes (Years) and thereunder by Number,

       for example: 1838-1; 1838-2, etc.

NOTE: There are no records,1855 through 1884. The court could not grant citizenship during those years.

Group II: 1885-1906

       There are two major sub groups:  Regular and Minor Series

A.  The “Regular” papers: 

          1. First series, 1885-1890
          2. First Series, 1890-1896
          3. Second series, 1896-1899
          4. Second Series, 1899-1902
          5. Second Series, 1902-1906

B.  The “Minor Series”: 

          1. Minor Series, 1885-1892
          2. Minor Series, 1892-1897

“Minor Series” papers were filed by those individuals who ARRIVED in the United States under the age of 18.   The age of the applicant did not matter.  If he arrived before his 18th birthday, he was considered a Minor for naturalization purposes.  A Declaration of Intention was not required.


Between 1838 and 1853, there 959 naturalizations in the Lowell Police Court, 826 of whom were Irish.  The remaining 133 were primarily English & Scots.

The top Five Irish Counties were: Cork – 127; Tyrone – 102; Leitrim – 79; Cavan – 67; and Roscommon – 52.

These records were extracted from the dexigraph (negative) copies held at the National Archives on Trapelo Road in Waltham, MA.  They were photographed as part of a WPA project in the late 1930's.  A combination of the negative image AND the handwriting left many words (mainly place of birth) illegible or at best questionable.

Subsequent to this extraction, the original papers became available at the Massachusetts State Archives.  On Saturdays over a couple of years, these were examined to clarify many (but not all) unclear entries.  The original papers also contained Declarations of Intention (DI) as well as requests for Duplicate (DU) Certificates.

Despite this cross referencing, there are still many relying on the “best read” of the extractor.

Many spellings appear to be phonetic and should be checked in various reference sources, such as:
1. Listings of Irish place names in the eight volumes of The search for missing friends : Irish immigrant advertisements placed in the Boston Pilot

2. Lewis, Samuel. A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. Vol. I. London, England: S. Lewis and Co., 1837.  [, also]

3. Search "Lists of Towns & Townlands in Ireland by County" in Internet search engines, for example

For more on the filming of the “dexigraphs” by the WPA, see:

A Gold Mine of Naturalization Records in New England by Walter V. Hickey

The INDEX to these is available on

Images of the petitions are also on

A special word of thanks to Barbara Saunders and Karen Hickey for their efforts in preparing these records for posting to the internet.