Did You Check if there is a Passport?

Often overlooked is seeing if an ancestor had a passport and a passport application. What a wealth of information. Not every passport had the same information, even those issued in the United States. It varied over the years.

In the USA early passport applications are held at the U.S. National Archives. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has passport applications from Oct. 1795 to March 1925. Even the early ones were issued by the U.S. Department of State. More recent passport applications, from April 1925 to the present-day, are held at the U. S. Department of State.

Some of the information about an individual could include:

.Name of applicant

.Birth date or age

  • Birthplace
  • Date of application or issuance of passport
  • Marital status
  • Father’s or husband’s name
  • Father’s or husband’s birth date or age
  • Father’s or husband’s birthplace
  • Father’s or husband’s residence
  • Wife’s name
  • Date of immigration
  • Date of naturalization and where and what court
  • Ship information
  • Possible information about children and other relatives
  • Occupation
  • Current residence and length of residency
  • Destination and reason for travel
  • Physical description – with no photograph, this may be the only hint of what they looked like
  • Photograph – this is a huge bonus as these applications provided the only photograph that I have of some ancestors. Low quality, but better than nothing.

Besides doing research for the years 1795 to 1925 at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The online site, FamilySearch.org has US Passport Applications for 1795-1925. They also have passport records for the Territory of Hawaii from 1874-1898.

Another database is the paid Ancestry.com subscription which the above databases plus Connecticut passports and birth certificate for 1852-1928, and US Consular Posts for 1915 to 1926.

Another free database is Fold3 with passport applications for 1795 to 1905.

Finding a passport is like finding a treasure chest especially if there is a photo attached to the application. Plus to have a copy of the person’s signature is wonderful. Always go to the next couple of pages, not just the first page. More details are found on the other pages.

Photos: Passport application for Frederick Kershaw in May 1919 and a photo of Frederick Kershaw.

Related Familytree.com Blogs:

Females’ Passports

Homeland Country’s Passports

Famous Passports

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