African-American Passport Germany
Over the past 30 years, the share of U.S. citizens holding a passport has increased dramatically. Last year (2017), 21.4 million passports were issued in the U.S., the highest number ever recorded. Considering that number, a mere 6.3 million were issued in 1997.
That year, only 15 percent of Americans possessed a passport, though that’s still far more than in 1990 when just four percent had one, according to the BBC. The share of the U.S. population with a passport stood at 27 percent in 2007, which has now increased to 42 percent.
As impressive as recent growth has been, the share of passport holders still lags far behind other developed countries. In Canada, 66 percent of people had a passport in 2016, while in the UK, 76 percent of people in England and Wales have one.
But it was not typical for an African American in 1958 to hold a passport
Meet John Clifton Duncan, Jr. from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. John was quite precisely 16 years young when his passport was issued at the American consulate in Munich, Germany. John was a dependent of a member of the American military or naval forces or a dependent of a civilian employee of the Government on active duty outside the continental limits of the United States, as the stamp on page 5 indicates.
His US passport was not valid for Hungary, as indicated on page 5. This limitation was standard in those days. Included is also the official letter of the White House – not the passport office, with a reminder that “…you represent America abroad”.
Exciting is the large red stamp, a certificate stating he is a “member or dependent of a member of the forces and is entitled to unrestricted entry into and exit from the Federal Republic of Germany and Berlin.” Issued by the United States Army, Europe Southern Area Command, Munich in November 1959.
This stamp clearly shows the “occupational” or “protective” power of the US Army in post-war Germany at that time.
African-American Passport Germany
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...