Passports were a gateway to travel and adventure for our ancestors and passport applications can be a gateway to valuable genealogical information for us.

passportsPassport applications are an often overlooked source of valuable genealogical information, especially about ancestors born in a foreign country. The National Archives and Records Administration has records of passport applications from 1795 to 1925. The U.S. Department of State has passport applications from 1925 to the present.

Passport applications are a surprising source for information about women and children. Although 95 percent of mid 19th century passport applicants were men, if the was accompanied by his wife, children or servants, their vital information was also included on the application. Passport applications typically would include information about date and place of birth, physical description, occupation, foreign destination and naturalization.

Passport applications have been digitized by ancestry.com. They can also be obtained thy mail (or in person) at the NARA in Washington DC. Researchers can even request passports applications online: inquire@nara.gov. Visit the NARA website for ordering instructions.

For more information visit http://www.archives.gov/research/passport/

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