Requesting U.S. Passport Applications
Using Ancestry.com Boston Passenger Lists I discovered my great-grandfather returned to Ireland in 1932, at the age of sixty. On the passenger manifest, next to his name and address, was a United States passport number and its issue date. I was intrigued. Why did he go to Ireland at the height of the depression? How long was he there?
I wrote to the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Information Resources Management requesting a copy of his passport application under the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552). By doing this, I saved the $60 fee the Department of State normally charges for this service. The downside is I had to wait five months for the document.
But it was worth it!
I received a copy of his application today and it contains his birth date, place and country of birth; the location and date of his naturalization; his current address; the name of his father and his fatherâ€™s country of birth; the countries he planned to visit with the passport, the reason for his visit; how long he was traveling for, the port he was sailing from, the name of the ship, the date he was departing; his height, age, hair and eye color; his occupation; his signature; a signature and address for an identifying witness (his brother-in-law in this case); and best of all, a copy of his photograph! There is space on the application for names of a wife and children, with personal data, but these were left blank.
So for those of you with U.S. naturalized immigrants in your ancestry, don’t stop searching for a passenger manifest just for their first trip to the USA. Look for a possible trip home later in life. If you find a passport number and date of issue, you can submit a request for a copy under the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC 552). You will need to provide credible evidence to indicate the person is deceased, in order to overcome the Privacy Act restrictions. (I used photocopies of his Irish birth certificate and obituary.) You will also need to provide the following information: The passport applicant’s name; passport number; year of birth; naturalization date; place of residence at the time of the application; approximate year of travel; and your name, mailing (postal) address, and telephone number.
Submit the request to:
Department of State
Office of Information Resources Management
515 22nd Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20522-6001
And then just wait patiently–within six months you could have a treasure trove in your mailbox and answers to your questions! In my case, my great-grandfather wished to visit relatives, and stayed there for nine months!
For each of my grandchildren, I bought small photo albums with clear envelopes to slip photos into. On the first page, I gave a preview of what was contained in the album. Then, on every left-hand page, I put a photo of one of their ancestors and on the facing page, a little bio of that person. The oldest photo is of my husbands’ ancestor who was in the Civil War. Where I didn’t have photos of the ancestor, I printed a flag of the country from which they came and I used that. The children have been fascinated by it, and it has certainly sparked an interest in genealogy in my youngest granddaughter who is seventeen. Maybe she will take over when I “meet my demise!”
Please remind your readers to check the “Print or comment on this article” option on the Quick Tips column. Some time ago I sent in a paragraph on the foreword in a book by Dr. William Alonzo Stanton who compiled a superb history on the descendants of Thomas and Anna Stanton. Today we enjoyed a visit from Dr. Stanton’s granddaughter, a sprightly young lady of seventy. I opened your newsletter which I had saved and just as a matter of interest clicked on the print or comment line. Imagine my surprise to find some really amusing comments by several of your readers. It added a great and funny touch to our lovely day. From now on I’ll regularly review those comments and quite possibly add some of my own.
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