Walt Disney. Babe Ruth. Tom Cruise’s great-grandparents. Our new collection of U.S. Passport Applications reveals the travels of several of America’s early-20th-century rich and famous. In total, the collection captures some 2.4 million Americans who traveled between 1795 and 1925, including vacationers and immigrants who often returned to their native countries to bring other family members back to America. The collection includes information on the applicants’ occupations, foreign destinations, and physical descriptions. One of the most interesting features, however, is that applications beginning in 1914 also include personal photographs.
Both Walt Disney and Ernest Hemingway submitted applications so they could travel to Europe and drive ambulances during World War I.
Babe Ruth filled out an application before sailing to Havana, Cuba, for a 1918 baseball game.
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, was pregnant when they arranged a pleasure trip of Europe in April 1921.
Pictures of Tom Cruise’s great-grandparents – Thomas and Anna Mapother – adorn their application filled out in 1924 in preparation for a European tour. Note it appears that Anna’s taller.
Alexander Graham Bell’s 1920 application describes him as having a high forehead, straight nose and slim mouth, a clean tanned complexion, and a full white beard.