Well, at least not according this brochure of the AMERICAN LINE, Philadelphia USA. The brochure which was issued till 1907 states… passports not necessary
“Passports are not necessary for United States citizens to most European countries, but travelers frequently find it to their advantage to carry with them this evidence of their citizenship. They are useful as a means of admission to certain places of interest, and also for identification at banks or post-offices. Passport application blanks, Which can be secured at stationery stores, should be filled out, sworn to before a notary public and then sent with $i.00 to the Secretary of State, Washington, D.C., who will return the passport in due time. This should be attended to at least two weeks before sailing.” More details below…
The American Line passports not necessary
was the largest US-American shipping company at that time based in Philadelphia, founded 1871. It began as part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, although the railroad got out of the shipping business soon after founding the company. In 1902 it became part of the International Navigation Co., with the American Line generally handling traffic between the United States ports of Philadelphia and New York City and the British ports of Liverpool and Southampton. Sister company Red Star Line handled traffic between America and the European continent, primarily through Antwerp, Belgium.
Clement Griscom passports not necessary
The company’s most prominent president was Clement Griscom, who led the company from 1888 to 1902 and worked as a company executive for its entire existence. During its existence the company was the largest American shipping company, rivalled only by the smaller, Baltimore-based Atlantic Transport Lines, although this distinction is a marginal one as all American oceanic shipping concerns were dwarfed by British companies such as the White Star Line or Cunard Line and German ones such as HAPAG.
The company became much larger when it bought out the Inman Line in 1886. In 1902, Griscom decided to merge his company with several other lines to create the International Mercantile Marine Company. The American name continued to exist under the IMM banner, but it was not until the trust’s failure in 1932 that the American pieces of the combine were once again solely under the American flag, this time in the guise of United States Lines.
Many U.S. residents traveled overseas without holding a U.S. passport, for two main reasons:
- Not Required. As a general rule, until 1941, U.S. citizens were not required to have a passport for travel abroad. Exceptions to general rule:
- Passports were required from August 19, 1861, to March 17, 1862, during the Civil War.
- Passports were recommended, but not required, by President Woodrow Wilson’s Executive Order 2285 of December 15, 1915, which stated that all persons leaving the U.S. should have passports.
- Passports were required from May 22, 1918 (40 Statutes at Large 559), until the formal termination of World War I in 1921 by treaties.
- Passports have been required since the passage of the act of June 21, 1941 (55 Statutes at Large252) and subsequent legislation.
- Aliens were Ineligible. As a general rule, the U.S. government only issued passports to U.S. citizens.
Exceptions to general rule:
- Aliens who had declared their intent to become a naturalized citizen could obtain a passport pursuant to the act of Congress of March 3, 1863 (12 Statutes at Large 754) which was repealed May 30, 1866 (14 Statutes at Large 54). Few passports were issued under this law, however.
- Aliens who had declared their intent to become a naturalized citizen could obtain a passport pursuant to the act of Congress of March 2, 1907 (34 Statutes at Large 1228), which was repealed June 4, 1920 (41 Statutes at Large 751).
Source: The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
US Passport History by Tom Topol for Keesing Technologies
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...