Passport Applications Hold Lots of Genealogical Data

Posted September 14, 2012 by Amanda | 7 Comments

Did you know that you can find very valuable information in U.S. passport application records? Passport applications hold a large amount of genealogical data that can be incredibly useful to your family tree research. Information such as birth date, place of birth, current residence, parental information, photo and signature are almost always found in passport applications. Let’s take a look at a real life example below!

Here is a copy of Walt Disney‘s passport application submitted August 26, 1918 and issued November 15, 1918.

During World War I, Walter E. Disney submitted an application for a passport so that he could join the American Red Cross. The first thing you may notice is that he lied about his birth date on the application. Walt Disney was born December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. However, to meet the American Red Cross’ age requirement, he lied about his age and listed his birth year as 1900.

His father was named Elias Disney and he was born in Canada. The application shows that his current residence was 1523 Ogdan Ave. Chicago, Illinois. Elias emigrated to the United states in 1878 and lived 40 consecutive years in Chicago since then.

Up to this point of his life, Walt never lived outside the United states. He lists the same residence as his father. We also learned that his occupation was chauffeur for the U.S. Post Office.

During his time abroad, Walt would be visiting Great Britain and France for the American Red Cross. According to the application, he planned to depart from New York City.

If you look closely, you can still make out Walt Disney’s passport photo on the next page. Plus, a physical description of Walt Disney!

Also included is a letter from his father and mother confirming Disney’s name and date of birth.

Check it out the entire document here. And here’s a fun fact: Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, is Walt Disney’s 6th cousin once removed!

Have you found your ancestor’s passport application? Be sure to upload them to your relatives’ profiles on Geni to share with everyone in your family. And let us know about your interesting discoveries in the comments below!

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Social Media Coordinator at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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  • sheila

    Where would one look to find passport applications? I have never found one among my parents or grandparents papers. Are they online somewhere, like the census records and birth/death/marriage records?

    • geniblog

      Passport applications can be found through the National Archives. Here’s a link with more info
      http://www.archives.gov/research/passport/index.html#where

      Cyndi’s List also has links to a variety of websites and resources http://www.cyndislist.com/passports/

    • Ashley Odell

      Sheila, you can also find a lot of helpful information on Ancestry, if you’re a subscriber or if your local library provides access. In addition to some passport applications, there are many documents there that show cross-border travel in and out of the United States.

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