Passports issued by the Governors of Georgia

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passports issued governors Georgia

This special publication, “Passports issued by the Governors of Georgia” from the National Genealogical Society (NGS), is a most important source for US passport history. I found this publication randomly online, and I am happy to grab it for my archive. I don’t know why the society back in 1964 published this specific research, but I asked the NGS for a statement. However, the book consists of 53 pages listing the passports issued by the governors of Georgia from 1810-1820, including an index of persons receiving passports from 1785-1820. Here is an example of a Georgia passport, which is extremely rare to find!

passports issued governors georgia
William Odum and William Thornhill Jr’s Passport issued 1811

This passport was prepared for the following person to travel through the Creek Nation of Indians (Alabama), to wit, One for Messrs. William Thornhill and William Odum, the former with his wife and five children, and his wife’s mother all from Beaufort District South Carolina.

Here we can see it was not unusual to issue one passport for several people, a group or collective passport, so to say. This kind of passport was not intended to identify a person but to give them permission to travel and safe passage.

The publication describes the content of passports, which is very gripping to read and gives us a fascinating insight into how the wording of early US travel documents was chosen back then. Here are some examples.

“That passport to be prepared for the following persons to travel through the Creek Nation of Indians, to wit, one for Mr. John Moore, with his wife, five children, and seven Negroes from Sumpter District, South Carolina, and one for Mr. James Perkins with his wife and one Negro – which were presented and signed.”

“That passport to be prepared for Messrs. Richard Richardson and Edem Leslie, the former with twelve Negroes, and the latter with his wife, eight children, and two Negroes from Sumpter District, South Carolina to travel to the Creek Nation of Indians, which was presented and signed.”

“That a passport to be prepared for Mr. Charles McDougall, Daniel MacDougall, and Mary McDougall, a little boy named Dan McDougall. John Tucker, and Archibald Smith with his wife and four children, all from Robinson County, North Carolina. Which was presented and signed.”

“That a passport to be prepared for…to travel thro the Indian Nations to the Western Country…”

“This will certify that Georges H. Hughes a citizen of the State of Georgia resident in Wilkes County, is about to pass into the Creek Nation to apprehend and bring into Georgia a Negro fellow named Grigg, lately the property of General John Clark, but now the property of Col. Wyllie Pope1 of the said County of Wilkes, and a Yellow Fellow named Greene, lately the property of Col. John M. Dooly, but now the property of Wyllie Pope. And I do hereby authorize the said Georges H. Hughes, to apprehend and bring back to Georgia, any other Slave and Slaves, which he may find in the Creek Nation, belonging to any of the Citizens of this State.”

P.S. Sadly the eBay seller reported the item as lost and I won’t get it. I just wonder why it took him only to report so after two weeks and only I opened a complaint with eBay. At least I got a full refund.


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...