This press release went out today on the U.S. Passport Applications that we talked about in this week’s newsletter. They have some neat examples from the collection on the Ancestry blog.
U.S. Passport Applications document the voyages of 2.4 million American travelers, between 1795 and 1925
Provo, UT â€“ December 4, 2007 â€“ Ancestry.com, the world’s leading online family history resource, this week released a collection of U.S. Passport Applications spanning from 1795 to 1925 and including names of nearly 2.4 million American travelers. Babe Ruth filled one out to before sailing to Havana, Cuba, for a 1918 baseball game. Walt Disney and Ernest Hemingway submitted applications so they could travel to Europe and drive ambulances during World War I. And pictures of Tom Cruiseâ€™s great-grandparents â€“ Thomas and Anna Mapother â€“ adorn their application filled out in 1924 in preparation for a European tour.
Passport applications beginning in1914 included photographs of the applicants, giving many people today the rare opportunity to see the faces of their ancestors. The documents also include applicantsâ€™ occupations, foreign destinations, and physical descriptions. Alexander Graham Bellâ€™s 1920 application, for example, described him as having a high forehead, a straight nose and slim mouth, a clean tanned complexion, and a full white beard â€“ which is clearly evident in the photo attached to his application.
Available online for the first time, this unique collection allows countless Americans interesting and sometimes humorous glimpses into the international wanderings of their ancestors and notable historical figures. Throughout the years covered by this collection, workers wages often put international travel within reach of only Americaâ€™s upper class.
â€œMixed among the frequent travels of the rich and famous, you will find the successful business man and his wife voyaging to a foreign port or the immigrant-turned-U.S.-citizen sailing home to visit relatives,â€ said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com. â€œYou may even find different applications for multiple trips; since passports during this time period were generally valid for only two years or less.â€
Other historical figures whose passport applications appear in the collection include:
- Anti-slavery advocate Frederick Douglass preparing for a 1886 Tour of Europe and Asia.
- Thomas Edison arranges to attend the Paris Exposition in 1889.
- Mark Twain, recorded by birth name Samuel L. Clemens and whose nose is described as â€œordinary,â€ traveling in 1891 with three daughters and a servant.
- In the aftermath of World War I, John D. Rockefeller Jr. prepares to travel to France to provide aid for restoration projects.
- Author F. Scott Fitzgeraldâ€™s wife, Zelda, was pregnant when they arranged a pleasure trip of Europe in April 1921. They were back in the states for the October 1921 birth.
- You can even find Paris Hiltonâ€™s great-grandfather Conrad Hilton, Donald Trumpâ€™s grandfather Fred Trump, Drew Barrymoreâ€™s grandfather John Barrymore and two of George W Bushâ€™s great-grandfathers â€“ Samuel Prescott Bush and George H. Walker.
Before the early 1920s, men made up 95 percent of passport applicants. When a wife or children accompanied the man, their names were simply added to the application. Many applications for male travelers include photos of both husband and wife. By 1923, women accounted for 40 percent of travelers applying for passports.
View images of selected celebritiesâ€™ passport applications at the Ancestry blog. Continue reading