Thursday, July 28, 2011

New on the Shelf : U.S. Passport Applications Index

Through a gift from the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA), three new microfilm collections have been added to the Local History Collection, the largest of which is the Index to U.S. Passport Applications, 1850-1852, 1860-1881 and 1906-1923.  Some smaller indexes also included in the 61-reels are:

  • Index to U.S. Passport Extensions, 1917-1920 
  • Index to U.S. Passports Issued Abroad, 1906-1918  
  • Index to U.S. Passports Consular Registrations, 1907-1921 
  • Index to U.S. Passports Certificates to Widow, Divorced Women Minors, 1907-1921
Passports are one of those often overlooked sources of family history information, perhaps dismissed by the researcher because of a perceived lack of useful data. 

The index gives some good basic information that should in most cases be enough to identify an individual:  name, husband's name (for women), place & date of birth, place & date of naturalization, the passport number, volume number and date issued.  
The earliest surviving U.S. passport is dated 1796, but they were sparse until becoming more popular in the 1840's even though they weren't required for traveling overseas until WWI.  In order to acquire a passport the applicant had to submit some sort of proof of United States citizenship.  This could be an affidavit, a letter, or certificate issued by a clerk or notary.    [For more information regarding U.S. Passports, consult the third edition of The Source : a guidebook to American genealogy, edited by Loretto Dennis Sucs & Sandra Hargreaves Luebking.]

Passports can contain any of the following information:
  • Name
  • Family Status
  • Date & Place of Birth
  • Residence (past & present)
  • Naturalization
  • Other Biographical Information
  • Signature
  • Occupation
  • Immigration
And, if that doesn't have your attention, by 1918 photographs were required to be included in the passport, and some are included before that.   

These and other microfilm donated by NARA have been cataloged and added to the microfilm collection.   Subscribers to may also access U.S. Passports 1795-1925.  

Nameless Picture of the Day
Wanda Health Resort, Grand Junction
real photo postcard

Can you identify the subjects in this photo?  Do you have knowledge of the Wanda Health Resort?  Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.