US Seamen Passport 1943 with border stamps

US Seamen Passport 1943 with border stamps

Over the years, I have seen many US Seaman passports but never one with border stamps. This is the very first one, and it’s a pretty rare example of a passport-type which was only for a brief time in use during the US involvement during WWII. But this passport is even more impressive than just having some stamping.

I always wondered why these Seaman passports never had any stamps and got earlier in contact with an officer at the U.S. Department of State who kindly was digging into the archives and replied me the following.

“On June 21, 1941, Congress passed 55 Stat. 252 amending law from WWI which effectively required everyone entering or leaving the United States to carry a passport.  Department Order 1003 outlined the particulars which put the law into effect at 0600 on January 15, 1942.  I can’t find any mention anywhere about whether stamps would or would not be put in the passport.  However, it was only required as a war measure to identify who came and went.  As such, I could see why there wouldn’t have been a need to put stamps in the books and why it might have been a security measure not to record their comings and goings.  Or it could just be that they were moving from the continental U.S. to U.S. bases or territories and therefore wouldn’t have needed stamps. I’ll keep looking, and if I find anything more, I’ll let you know.”

This Seaman passport was issued to Richard Henry Carignan from Hartford, CT. Richard was born 31 Oct 1924, which makes him just 18+ years old when his Seaman passport was issued on 15 July 1943. His passport also has two serial numbers, which I think is unusual as well. At the upper margin, we find the No. 118013 and the lower margin shows US 24260.

And then there are two border stamps on the last page. One is from Istanbul, Turkey dated 28.12.(19)51, and from Alexandria, Egypt dated 28 May 1953!

Richard’s Seaman passport came with further documents like two reference letters from American Export Lines, U.S. Merchant Marine Officer licenses from June 1956 and U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Discharge from April 1953.

I informed my contact at the DoS about my findings, and she replied.

What an interesting find!!!  And how odd.  The lack of expiry date actually throws me.  Since the very beginning passports have had at least a two year from the issuance expiration date, even if not written on the document.  I need to go back and view more bio pages for the seaman’s passport and then review all the regulations of the time to get a better understanding.  But this is definitely a treasure!!!  Every time something like this pops up, it sends me looking down more rabbit holes to try to understand the minutiae of the law and regulations of the time.  There is always something new to learn!”

US Seamen Passport 1943 with border stamps

US Seaman passports were discontinued on August 1945 but how is it possible that his passport includes stamps from 1951 and 1953? Eight, resp. ten years after his passport was issued? US Seaman passports had no expiry date on the document nor in the printed text on the inner back cover. Was it just assumed his Seaman passport was good for travel? So far, this collectible remains a curious riddle — a great piece of US passport history.

US Seamen Passport 1943 with border stamps

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  1. Interesting document indeed! I have a seaman’s passport myself and was always wondering why it was empty. Now I have more info. However, I did notice on the endorsements that they say “allowed to visit the city” – the one from Alexandria says so in English, and the one from Istanbul says so in Turkish (“sehri gezer”). Technically speaking, these endorsements were not for entry into the country, but simply for visiting. Or am I mistaken here?

    1. Well, as you might know, a US ship is US territory, and even a seaman is probably in Turkey or Egypt he can’t leave the vessel resp. harbor. So, if he wants to visit the city, then he enters foreign soil and hence needs a permit (to enter the country), the stamps as shown. A very special passport, especially after Seaman passports were discontinued in 1945, but they never showed an expire date. So it’s even more strange that the stamps are from 1951 and 1953.

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