Some Notes on the new Passport Database
Ancestry.com just rolled out the new U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 database. A few notes based on my brief review of it:
- First, passports containing photos have the photos on the image after the initial application form. Make sure you view both pages for an image of your ancestor. The photo that displays next to the initial page of the application belongs to someone else. Early passport applications do not include photos, just a general description.
- Passports contain a wealth of info, depending on their date, including birth place and date, immigration place, ship name, and date, naturalization information, parents and spouse names (and birth dates and sometimes current residences), current residence, occupation, place of travel and expected length of stay, etc.
- Passports for women and children were usually issued in their husband/parent's names.
- Check passport information on both ancestors and their siblings. Since many different forms were used over the years, parent or naturalization information might appear on just one of their passport applications.
- The same individual might have applied for multiple passports at various times and for different trips, providing a nice view of different stages of their life (see Dewitt H. Kornhauser)
- Sometimes relatives (i.e. husbands and wives if they have separate passports) applied at the same time and have consecutive passpport numbers. Look at the applications before and after the one of interest to see if it belongs to a relative.
- Some passport applications include supplementary information. I looked at one for Leslie Ralph Marshall that had an attached letter mentioning his intention to stay in France and marry Magdeleine Gilli. I know that he did do this from other family, but this would have been an important clue otherwise. The supplementary letters take up a couple of images beyond the passport application itself, showing the value of looking before and after the application.
- Not all passport applications include birth date info, so don't rely on this as a definite search mechanism.