The Native Americans, a brief introduction
The great expansion into the American West, which began in the 1840s, transformed America. This expansion across the Great Plains of North America came at a high cost to the Native Americans. There were many Native American tribes or ‘Indians’ as they were known, living on this land, and they were seen to be standing in the way of white people who wanted to take these lands as their own. The white settlers wanted this land for railways, building roads, mining, and the ‘sunshine’ states on the West Coast, such as California. White settlers saw the Indians as backward and standing in the way of progress, resulting in battles and wars with the Indians during the nineteenth century. Native American Alien Registration
There is no doubt that the government’s aim was to ‘Americanise’ or assimilate the Native Americans and make them part of American society. By the late nineteenth century, it was clear to most Americans, apart from the American Indians, that all Indian tribes would be extinct in the twentieth century. The plan was that all American Indians, like other immigrants, would be fully brought into mainstream American culture, where they would be English-speaking, Christian farmers.
Reservations Native American Alien Registration
After 1867, all Native Americans had to live on ‘reservations,’ which were small areas of tribal land promised to the Indians by the US government. In 1887, the government passed the ‘Dawes Act’ which went a step further by dividing these reservations into ‘allotments’ or smaller areas of land owned by individual Native Americans. The act stated that the head of each family would receive 160 acres of tribal land, and every single person would receive 80 acres. The government would hold the title to the ground for 25 years. After 25 years, each individual would receive United States citizenship and be allowed to keep their land.
Life on the reservations was deliberately designed to destroy the Indian way of life. For example, Indians did not have the same rights as other Americans, and the reservations were run for them by the US government. Native American Alien Registration
Even before the start of the twentieth century, Native Americans were clearly being discriminated against. In fact, by the end of World War I, Native Americans were suffering from short life expectancy, disease, malnutrition, a diminishing land base, and a poorly developed and unrealistic school system. The 1920s was to be an era of discrimination against the Native Americans. For example, The wearing of traditional clothing was banned. Boys were not allowed to have long hair.
June 2, 1924: U.S. Congress passes the Indian Citizenship Act, granting citizenship to all Native Americans born within the country’s territorial limits. Previously, citizenship had been limited, depending on what percentage of Native American ancestry a person had, whether they were veterans, or, if they were women, whether they were married to a U.S. citizen. Native American Alien Registration
March 4, 1929: Charles Curtis serves as the first Native American U.S. Vice President under President Herbert Hoover.
May 1942: Members of the Navajo Nation developed a code to transmit messages and radio messages for the U.S. armed forces during World War II. Eventually, hundreds of code talkers from multiple Native American tribes served in the U.S. Marines during the war.
April 11, 1968: The Indian Civil Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, granting Native American tribes many of the benefits included in the Bill of Rights. Native American Alien Registration
March 15, 2021: Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico is confirmed as secretary of the Interior, making her the first Native American to lead a cabinet agency. “Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce,” Haaland Tweeted after her confirmation. “I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land.”
(Travel) documents of Native Americans are scarce to find, but I was lucky to find these two UK Alien Registration Cards from the 1920s.
Meet YELLOW HORSE and probably his wife, GOES IN THE LODGE(?). Two outstanding documents and most important for Native American history.
Both had US passports issued in 1923, and both arrived in the UK on August 27, 1923. The address in the USA is given as Wind River, Reservation, Wyoming. Native American Alien Registration
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?
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 😉
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...