Most people want to know exactly where their ancestors were from. Passenger lists and even naturalization records sometimes don’t answer these questions completely. If your ancestor took trips back to the homeland later in life, there may be another way to find out. Depending on the time period, your ancestor may have had to fill out a passport application. Ancestry.com has now released thousands of these applications online.
Passports have only been required by law around war time. The applications available on ancestry are from many different States. For a list of those States and a full explanation of what is in the database, you can visit http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1174. These applications have very useful information such as the exact town they were born in, parents information, date of entry into the US, place in the US they filed for Naturalization, etc…
Probably the best part about the passport application is the picture of the ancestor. In some cases, this may be the only photo in existence of the ancestor.
These passports play a crucial part in finding our origins. Eventually more of these applications will be made available. Be sure and check with the National Archives in the State your ancestor was in. They may have those naturalization records and that passport.
Family History Detective