Museums and Libraries Celebrate Citizenship

Immigrant influence in politicsWhen the United States celebrated its 239th birthday this year, museums and libraries acted as prominent venues in the festivities. With more than 50 naturalization ceremonies across the country, more than one-third of them took place in some of the nation’s most famous libraries and museums.

Settings for the naturalization ceremonies included the New York Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Seattle Center, the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Among the historic sites where the ceremonies occurred were George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Virginia; Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia; and the USS Midway in San Diego, California.

Teri  DeVoe, library program officer with The Institute of Museum and Library Services writes in the organization’s blog about witnessing the naturalization ceremony that took place at Mount Vernon in Virginia.

“Although the ceremony I watched had its own special hallmarks, including a keynote address from CIA Director John Brennan and words of inspiration from a George Washington reenactor, it had features in common with many other naturalization events that weekend,” the blog entry reads.

Primary among the common features in all the naturalization ceremonies over the holiday weekend, which saw more than 4,000 immigrants become United States citizens, was the Oath of Allegiance. With the Oath of Allegiance, immigrants pledge their support for the principles laid out in the U.S. Constitution, and they renounce allegiance to any foreign government or power.

Federal buildings, state and national parks and other historically significant locations were among the other venues used in the naturalization ceremonies.  Among these: The Rush H. Limbaugh, Sr. Courthouse in Cape Girardeau, Mo.; McCoy Baseball Stadium in Pawtucket, RI; and First Tennessee Park in Nashville.

“Occasions like these ask us to remember the value held by these historic sites, “according to the USCIS blog about the special naturalization weekend.

Take a look at some of these naturalization statistics:

  • Each year, around 680,000 immigrants become citizens of the United States.
  • In fiscal year 2013, 75 percent of all naturalized citizens resided in just 10 states. In descending order: California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
  • In fiscal year 2013, the top countries of origin for naturalized immigrants: Mexico, India, Philippines, Dominican Republic and China.