Passport Conferences & Territory Issues by the League of Nations

Passport Conferences & Territory Issues by the League of Nations

The League of Nations held two conferences about passports. Below you see their recommendation of a “passport standard,” further the handling of territorial issues.

1920 Events

January 10, 1920
British Mandate over Tanganyika began. The British government officially began its administration over the German East African mandate and changed the name of the territory to Tanganyika. The British sent the German settlers home and sold off their estates and property.

February 10, 1920
Schleswig Northern Zone Plebiscite. Voters in the northern zone of the North Schleswig plebiscite (74 percent) decided for a reunion with Denmark.

February 12, 1920
Allied Occupation of Upper Silesia. Due to fighting between the Germans and the Poles, the Allied Commission of Control took over the administration of Upper Silesia with the support of French occupation troops.

February 15, 1920
Allied Occupation of Memel. Allied forces occupied the Memel district and placed the port under Allied control.

February 26, 1920
League Administration of the Saar. The League of Nations took over the administration of the Saar from Germany for fifteen years. At the end of this period, the League would hold a plebiscite to determine the future of the region.

March 14, 1920
Schleswig Southern Zone Plebiscite. Voters (80 percent) in the southern zone of the North Schleswig plebiscite chose to remain part of Germany.

June 15, 1920
Danish Administration in North Schleswig The Danish government assumed control over the northern zone of North Schleswig, which had voted for reunion with Denmark in the plebiscite.

July 9, 1920
Incorporation of Northern Schleswig into Denmark The Danish government officially incorporated the northern zone of North Schleswig into Denmark in response to the plebiscite of February.

July 23, 1920
Reorganization of Kenya. The British government renamed British East Africa like Kenya and made the territory a crown colony. The coastal strip of the colony, leased from the Sultan of Zanzibar in 1887, became known as the Kenya Protectorate.

September 1, 1920
U.S.-Siamese Treaty on Extraterritorial Rights The U.S. and Siamese governments signed a treaty whereby the United States gave up any extra-territorial rights in Siam and granted the Siamese government tariff autonomy.

October 15-21, 1920
Conference on Passports and Customs Formalities The League of Nations hosted a conference in Paris to address the problems of passports and customs formalities for international travelers.

Passport Conferences & Territory Issues by the League of Nations

November 9, 1920
Danzig declared a Free State as provided in the Treaty of Versailles, Danzig became a Free State and placed under the protection of the League of Nations.

 

1926 Events

May 12-18, 1926
Second International Passport Conference The League of Nations hosted a second conference in Geneva on passport standardization to promote international travel.

Source: League of Nations – Photo Archive 
 
Passport Conferences & Territory Issues by the League of Nations
 
FAQ Passport History
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1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?

The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...

2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?

Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...

3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?

"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...

4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?

Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...

5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?

Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.

6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?

During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...

8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?

Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.

9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?

Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.

10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?

A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?

First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...

Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.

Question? Contact me...