Updated March 24, 2016
The U.S. government has issued passports to American citizens since 1789, albeit through several different agencies throughout the years. For the most part, passports were not required of U.S. citizens for foreign travel until World War I. Passports were required for a short time during the Civil War (Aug. 19, 1861-Mar. 17, 1862). An Executive Order given in 1915, and then later an act of Congress given in 1918, established the passport requirement for citizens traveling abroad. This law lapsed with the formal termination of World War I through treaties with Germany, Austria, and Hungary in 1921. In 1941, with the onset of World War II, the Congressional act of 1918 was reinstated. U.S. citizens have been required to carry a passport for foreign travel ever since.
This database contains passport applications from 1795-1925, including emergency passport applications (passports issued abroad) from 1877-1907. It also contains passport application registers for 1810-1817, 1830-1831, and 1834-1906. Passports issued March 4-5, 1919 (numbers 67500-67749) are missing from the NARA collection and therefore, are missing from this database as well.
Passport applications can provide a wealth of information, including:
▪ Name of applicant
▪ Birth date or age
▪ Date of application or issuance of passport
▪ Father’s and/or husband’s name
▪ Father’s and/or husband’s birth date or age
▪ Father’s and/or husband’s birthplace
▪ Father’s and/or husband’s residence
▪ Wife’s name
▪ Date and place of immigration to the U.S.
▪ Years in which have resided in the U.S.
▪ Naturalization date and place
▪ Physical characteristics
Some passport applications include a photo of the applicant. To receive a U.S. passport, a person had to submit proof of U.S. citizenship. This was usually in the form of a letter, affidavits of witnesses, and certificates from clerks or notaries. Sometimes these other documents are included as part of the application.
There was a variety of passport application forms used throughout the years. By 1888 there were separate application forms for native citizens, naturalized citizens, and derivative citizens. As a result, all of the above listed information may not be available for every applicant. Likewise, there may be additional information, other than what is shown above, listed on the application form. Some information may only be obtained by viewing the image of the application.
Passport application registers may provide:
▪ Date and number of application
▪ Name of applicant
▪ Age of applicant (1834-1849)
▪ Physical characteristics of applicant (1834-1849)
|Name||Date of birth||Place of Birth||Father||Date of Issue||Destination|
|Archer E. Gilliam and Wife Sydnie Gilliam||3 Feb 1892||Farmville, Prince Edward County, VA||James W. Gilliam|
[James D. Gilliam]
|9 Jan 1920||Havana|
|Anne Bathurst Gilliam||20 Sep 1901||Petersburg, VA||Richard D. Gilliam||3 May 1923||China, Japan and Hong Kong|
|Elizabeth D. Gilliam||27 Aug 1879||Buckingham County, VA||John Branch Gilliam||9 Aug 1924||Great Britain, France, Norway, Italy, Sweden |
|Frank Johnson Gilliam||22 Apr 1895||Lynchburg, VA||James R. Gilliam||16 Aug 1920||Belgian Congo, Belgium, England, France|
|Frank Johnson Gilliam and wife Louise Johnson Gilliam||22 Apr 1895||Lynchburg, VA||James R. Gilliam||19 Jul 1924||Belgian Congo, Belgium, British Isles, France, Holland, Italy, Switzerland|
|Hoge Gilliam||4 Sep 1872||Richmond, VA||Marshall M. Gilliam||19 Sep 1922||France, England, Germany|
|James Richard Gilliam, Jr.||11 Jan 1891||Lynchburg, VA||James R. Gilliam||30 Jul 1924||Great Britain, France, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy|
|John Gilliam||10 Mar 1885||Surry County, VA||Richard D. Gilliam||2 Jun 1922||China, Japan, Hong Kong|
|John Gilliam||10 Mar 1885||New Quarter, Surry County, VA||Richard D. Gilliam||31 May 1913||China, Japan, Hong Kong|
|Richard Davenport Gilliam, Jr.||16 Nov 1897||Petersburg, VA||Richard D. Gilliam||5 Jun 1924||Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy|
|William Earnest Gilliam||12 Mar 1872||Chesterfield, Chesterfield County, VA||Joseph P. Gilliam||23 Aug 1921||Mexico|
▪ Ancestry.com. U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data:
▪ Passport Applications, 1795-1905; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1372, 694 rolls); General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
▪ Passport Applications, January 2, 1906-March 31, 1925; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1490, 2740 rolls); General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
▪ Registers and Indexes for Passport Applications, 1810-1906; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1371, rolls 1-3, 13); General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
▪ Emergency Passport Applications (Passports Issued Abroad), 1877-1907; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1834, 56 rolls); General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59; National Archives, Washington, D.C.