Cook County, Ill. (home of Chicago), has posted a database of transcribed information from declarations of intention filed in the countys circuit court between 1906 and 1929.
A declaration of intention, sometimes called first papers, was the first step toward becoming a US citizen.
Records are still being added. So far, the database contains information from more than 150,000 of the 400,000 declarations of intention filed. A grant from the National Archives National Historical Publications and Records Commission funds the project.
The search is pretty flexible: You can search on a name or part of a name, birthdate, birth place, occupation or other parameters. My search on Syria as the country of birth netted 94 matches.
Click on a match to see the date the intention was filed, birth information, occupation, current residence, port of departure for the United States and date of arrival.
To order the original declaration of intention (for a search fee of $9, plus photocopying charges), click the How to Order link at the bottom of the page.