Launches U.S. Passport Applications Showcasing Travels of the Rich and Famous

Ancestry____logo.bmpThis 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 – December 4, 2007 –, 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 Cruise’s great-grandparents – Thomas and Anna Mapother – 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 applicants’ occupations, foreign destinations, and physical descriptions. Alexander Graham Bell’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 – 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 America’s upper class.

“Mixed 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,” said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for “You may even find different applications for multiple trips; since passports during this time period were generally valid for only two years or less.”

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 “ordinary,” 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 Fitzgerald’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 Hilton’s great-grandfather Conrad Hilton, Donald Trump’s grandfather Fred Trump, Drew Barrymore’s grandfather John Barrymore and two of George W Bush’s great-grandfathers – 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 celebrities’ passport applications at the Ancestry blog.
With 24,000 searchable databases and titles and 2.5 million active members, is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch in 1997, has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. The site is home to the only complete online U.S. Federal Census collection, 1790-1930, as well as the world’s largest online collection of U.S. ship passenger list records featuring more than 100 million names, 1820-1960. is part of The Generations Network, Inc., a leading network of family-focused interactive properties, including,, and Family Tree Maker. In total, The Generations Network properties receive 8.7 million worldwide unique visitors and 416 million page views per month (© comScore Media Metrix, October 2007). For more information, visit The Generations Network media room.

Media Contact

Julia Burgon
Coltrin & Associates for
212-221-1616 ext. 124
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7 thoughts on “ Launches U.S. Passport Applications Showcasing Travels of the Rich and Famous

  1. Actually, this is available through a U.S. Deluxe membership, which is not the most expensive. (That is World Deluxe which gives you access to everything on

    U.S. Deluxe memberships are $12.95 monthly (billed in one annual payment of $155.40), $16.95 for three months (also billed in one payment of $50.85), or monthly at $19.95 per month. Click here to learn more or to subscribe.


  2. Happy Holidays to all ,I’m on disability and my health just isn’t all that great and my check leaves me without often but I have 5 grandsons and nothing for them to remember me by the two oldest may have small glints of my mother but even my daughter never saw any great grandparents that she remembers and my son was 4 when she died so he only knows she was in a wheel chair, and both my grandfathers were dead before I was born so I let Ancestry take the little monthly world deluxe out of my bank and do without other things because I just don’t have 10 years left to search for family and I need all the help I can get, but even here you hit brick walls ,I’ve paid more than one site and got nothing from most or transfered to other sites wanting more money and Ancestry got me to donate my DNA TO ONE PLACE THAT WAS GOING TO GIVE ME $100. OFF THE COST OF MY OWN PERSONNAL DNA ?? Tnen they parted ways now they have my DNA and I have nothing and I sent mine in the day I heard about it so that was just wrong of them how they ,”Ancestry” is chargeing more than I was quoted from the Lab with my DNA!!SO I can’t do any more and someone has my DNA and i’m to poor to pay all this money and research at the same time hope they didn’t mess up any other poor people. sad and very disapointed, Claire I Birkbeck-Frustine

  3. I feel that is a real bargin. How else could you access all of that data for $155/year. One short genealogy trip could easily cost that much in gas/motel/food. Besides, my wife and I research almost daily in the comfort of our home, at any hour of the day that suits our needs. Keep up the good work Ancestry!

  4. I have been an Ancestry member for many years. The price is a little difficult for me as well. However, I must say the databases are very welcome. My only complaint is that they have gotten rid of some of their newspapers. I had an ancestor that was in the paper all over the U.S. several years ago. I should have made copies of every article I found but knew they would be there when I needed them. I put the same name in now and get nothing. So that tells me that they are not available now and I have no copies. Also, in some of the census and now in the passport database, I put in a name that I have proof of and the database does not have them. That upsets me.

  5. I was not able to find anything on the passport applications other than a name…perhaps I did something incorrectly?

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