The recently released database of U.S. Passport ApplicationsÂ at Ancestry.com was exciting news to genealogists. Frankly, I only had three relatives I thought I might find in the database and unfortunately none of them were located. However, when I began experimenting with search terms and names, I located quite a few family members I had never thought to look for. This week we look at some search strategies in this exciting new database.
The Importance of Family
It is important to remember that the database index used to search these passport applications is not an every-name index. The names that are a part of the database are the name of the applicant and possibly the spouse or the father. (Not every application listed the spouse and/or father.) Names of children (if traveling with the applicant) may also be included on the application, but they are not searchable.
Additionally, some applications have names of witnesses or individuals providing testimony for the applicant–also potential relatives. Other applications may have a name and an address of where the passport should be sent, not necessarily the applicantâ€™s permanent address. All of these names could be additional clues and their presence reinforces the importance of searching for extended family members in this database.
The 1905 application of John Goldenstein from New MexicoÂ is a case in point. Witness, L. U. Albers, indicates he has known Goldenstein for sixteen years, since approximately 1889. Goldenstein says he immigrated in May of 1889 and lived for a time in Nebraska and New Mexico. Albers knowledge of Goldenstein for sixteen years suggests that he also spent time in Nebraska. Goldensteinâ€™s passport is to be sent to him in care of Mrs. T. M. Ehmen in Sterling, Nebraska, not to his actual address. Most likely he was stopping in Nebraska on his way overseas. It turns out that Goldenstein, Albers, and Ehmen were all related to one another, but those relationships are not stated in the application. Continue reading