There are so many different types of records that guide us to the information about our ancestors and their lives.
One of the many – and often overlooked, are passport applications and passports themselves. Here we will show and discuss U.S. applications and show and discuss a passport from Nazi Germany.
For United States passport applications, required reading is from the U.S. National Archives – Passport Applications. The history, types, limitations and how to access the microfilms of registers and indexes are included.
So what unique and interesting information can be found in a U.S. passport application from the collection of 1795 – 1925?
- Name of applicant
- Birth date or age
- 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
- 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.
In microfilm form, they are available from NARA and the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
Online, check out these collections:
FamilySearch – free
Ancestry – subscription
- U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925
- Connecticut, Passport and Birth Certificates, 1852-1928
- U.S. Consular Posts, Emergency Passport Applications, 1915-1926
- Hawaii, Passport Records, 1849-1850, 1874-1900
FindMyPast – subscription
Fold3 – free
Here is an example of an application from 1921 for one of my ancestors:
As you can see there is a ton of information that can be exceedingly helpful to you.
Now on to Nazi Germany. I had about a half dozen ancestors who escaped, and unfortunately three who didn’t. The fortunate ones went to Shanghai, America, Palestine, and England.
In this passport, the following information is presented:
- Maiden Name
- Religion – notice the red “J” which is self explanatory
- Birth location
- Birth date
- Place of residence
- Body type
- Face shape
- Eye color
- Hair color
- Distinguishing marks
So research your ancestor’s passports and passport applications. Lots of wonderful information awaits you.