U.S. naturalization records - local or national?

I want to cite a naturalization record for Charles K. Kelly imaged here: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSMV-Y929-N

Looking at the FamilySearch catalog for these records, it almost looks like they should be cited as federal records, but the authors are listed as Circuit and District Courts:


I've reviewed various sections of Evidence Explained 3rd revised ed., but it only seems to have muddied the waters.

Submitted byEEon Tue, 11/28/2023 - 18:17

Yes, mbcross, these are federal records. Look at the spine of the book, which appears at image 1087 (also relevant would be the filmer's target at 1086).  The catalog does not err. The U.S. federal government, as well as individual states, has circuit and district courts. Ergo, the binding on the book states "Record of Naturalization, Vol. 77, Nov. 22, 1873 to Feb. 27, 1874, United States Circuit Court."

The catalog entry states:


The agency that created the record and its jurisdiction is the U.S. Circuit Court (Massachusetts District). The title of the book would be "Record of Naturalization, Vol. 77, Nov. 22, 1873 to Feb. 27, 1874." The page number is 95.

EE's chapter 11 covers federal records. Specifically federal naturalizations are at 11.49. The example there is for a file that is not imaged—one personally used at a repository. You are using a bound register. How to cite a bound court book or register is demonstrated copiously in the local and state chapters, specifically at 8.31—the example for local-level naturalizations. 

This is why we need mix-and-match layers.  If any guide tried to demonstrate every delivery/access method used today for every type of record, it would be the size of the OED.  But once we learn how to cite a manuscript court volume (or a file), then our identification of the volume (or the file) in our Layer 1 is the same whether we use that record at the local courthouse, at the National Archives, or online.  Layer 2 (our location/access layer) then cites specifically where/how we accessed the record.

Whether a record was created by the federal government or the state government matters when you are identifying the creator of the record. But for the structure of the citation instead of thinking of a record as This is a naturalization record and it's federal, not state, think of it as This is (a) a record book for which I need to identify the creator, title, and page; and (b) how/where it's acccessed.

U.S. Circuit Court (Massachusetts District), "Record of Naturalization, Vol. 77, Nov. 22, 1873 to Feb. 27, 1874," p. 95, naturalization of Charles K. Kelly; imaged, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSMV-Y929-N : accessed 28 November 2023) > Image Group Number 7777605 > image 1345 of 1992.

Although I had to tinker with the software templates I use, I got it. I did have one follow-up question, however. As the naturalization record carries over to the next image, would it be appropriate to state "images 1345-1346 of 1992" at the end?

Absolutely, it's appropriate. Citation is not a set of rigid formulas that must be used without alteration. EE's examples are patterns to guide researchers as they made adaptations to accommodate an endless array of records and record types.