Genealogy Information in Passport Applications

Application for a New Passport Form DS-11

One of the often overlooked genealogical documents are passport applications and the passports themselves. 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
  • 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 is better than nothing.

And where can we find these useful application documents?

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

FindMyPast – subscription

Fold3 – subscription

My Heritage – free

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

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