December 10, 2007

What Will the U.S. Passport Applications Collection Reveal About Your Ancestors?

My great-great-grandfather has a medium mouth.

At least, that’s what some Joe Schmoe wrote on his passport application in 1892.

Actually, that Joe Schmoe’s name is Horatio Pickett, and he also said my grandfather had a large nose. His description for my great-great-grandfather’s face? Common.

C’mon, Horatio. Now you’re just asking for it.

Passports became common in the 1840s, but were not required until after World War I. The U.S. Passport Applications Collection contains more than 2 million passport applications filed by residents of the U.S. Of those, around 300,000 contain photographs of the applicant. Information can include date and place of birth, residence, naturalization, and other biographical information. To search the U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925, go here.

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