Who issued the passports for travel to Russian America?

Who issued the passports for travel to Russian America?

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Employees of the Russian-American Company were supposed to have seven-year passports to travel from Russia to the Company's colonies. Officials endeavored to stay in compliance, though it's clear that there wasn't always a valid passport for every employee (Correspondence of the Governors, pp. 71). A census form asks "by whom and where the passport was issued" (pp. 14). The Company's Main Office in St. Petersburg was one of the entities that undertook passport issuance and renewals. Closer to Company fur operations, the port commandant of Okhotsk once demanded to be sent those employees whose passports had expired (pp. 71) (a clue for another question). It must be no coincidence that the Company's normal employee contract also lasted seven years and was often signed in Okhotsk. However, Miller in Kodiak Kreol wrote that seven-year passports were issued in Irkutsk.

Which officials could create passports for the colonies? Could one be written in Okhotsk or Petropavlovsk?

The Contentious History of the Passport

The concept of a worldwide passport standard is relatively new, created in the aftermath of the First World War.

In black and white photos and crackly films shot through with static, a classic image of the United States at the turn of the last century emerges: a near constant rush of immigrants, most destined to pass through Ellis Island. There they were given a cursory disease check, questioned, and in most cases, allowed to proceed on their journeys inward. This was easy enough to do without a global standard for identifying documents. Now, as immigration policy takes center stage worldwide, it’s hard to imagine just how they got through without them.

With their microchips and holograms, biometric photos and barcodes, today’s passports can seem like stunning feats of modern technology, especially when considering their origins can be traced back to the biblical era. Centuries ago, the sauf conduit or safe conduct pass was designed to grant an enemy “passage in and out of a kingdom for the purpose of his negotiations,” explains historian Martin Lloyd in The Passport: The History of Man’s Most Travelled Document. This was little more than written plea that acted as a type of gentleman’s agreement: that two rulers recognized each other’s authority, and stepping over a border would not cause a war.

In addition to a black market of stolen and fake passports, some countries have willingly opened up their borders to the highest bidder.

Of course, it’s not too easy to enforce the rules when there’s no agreement on them. This all changed in 1920, when the idea of a worldwide passport standard emerged in the aftermath of the First World War, championed by the League of Nations, a body tasked with the heavy burden of maintaining peace. A year later, perhaps recognizing a political opportunity, the U.S. passed the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and later, the Immigration Act of 1924 limiting the inflow of immigrants. The emergency? Too many newcomers from countries deemed a threat to “the ideal of American hegemony.” How to identify an immigrant’s country of origin? By a newly minted passport, of course.

Cooked up by a Western-centric organization trying to get a handle on a post-war world, the passport was almost destined to be an object of freedom for the advantaged, and a burden for others. “A passport is a kind of shield: when you're a citizen of a wealthy democracy,” explains Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, author of The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen. A Canadian-born Swiss citizen of Iranian parentage, Abrahamian puzzles over the construct of citizenship, “I don't have a particularly strong emotional attachment to any of my passports I see them as accidents of birth and I wouldn't identify as any nationality if I didn't have to.”

Like Abrahamian, critics of the 1920 resolution argued it was less about creating a more democratic society of world travelers than it was about control, even within a country’s own borders. In the early 20th century, married American women were literally a footnote in their husbands’ passports, reports Atlas Obscura. They were unable to cross a border alone, though married men were of course free to roam.

Some nations foresaw the darker implications of the passport and spoke out against what they saw as Western dominance, Mark Salter explains in Rights of Passage: The Passport in International Relations. “Although many countries wished to dispose of the passport, because a few countries would not give up the passport—in fact, no country could afford to give up the passport.” This catch 22—along with a heavy dose of angst—would make sly, quiet appearances in 20th-century travel literature, including works by Paul Bowles and Joan Didion. No one, it seemed, much liked the idea of being labeled, packaged, and dehumanized within a passport’s pages, but no one could get around without one.

In recent years, passports have faced a distinctly 21st-century identity crisis, becoming a highly sought after commodity, like real estate and fine art. In addition to a black market of stolen and fake passports, some countries have willingly opened up their borders to the highest bidder. “When I discovered [during my research] that there was a whole legal market for passports, it validated my feeling that citizenship was a pretty arbitrary thing,” Abrahamian notes. For example, countries like Malta and Cyprus essentially sell citizenship—the former for over $1 million, the latter for significant investments.

Beyond the one percent, a shifting global landscape of new states, changing borders, and discriminatory ethnic policies has further reinforced statelessness: those who do not belong to a nationality of any country. At least 10 million people around the world are stateless, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. These people are often denied passports, and consequently, freedom of movement. These extremes again illustrate how murky our notions of citizenship really are.

Today, U.S. State Department statistics report 18.6 million passports issued in 2016–the highest annual number on record. The popular online search tool Passport Index offers up ways of comparing passports via interactive tools reminiscent of fantasy football scoreboards. Magazines like Travel & Leisure breathlessly announce the winners of “best” and “worst” passport rankings every year. As other nations join the new U.S. administration in toying with the idea of closed borders, it is worth meditating once again on the passport’s essential arbitrariness.

Depending on our country of origin, a passport may grant us extreme privilege or extreme distress. It may be a sheltering sky or a burden to bear. The passport isn’t going anywhere, but the carefully thought-out precautions meant to shape it over a period of decades into a near-perfect document must now evolve as our world changes. So what will it look like next?

The 1920s Women Who Fought For the Right to Travel Under Their Own Names

The current U.S. passport includes 13 inspirational quotes from notable Americans. Only one belongs to a woman, the African-American scholar, educator, and activist Anna J. Cooper. On pages 26-27 are words she wrote in 1892: “The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class—it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”

If equality is a journey, then it should come as no surprise that passports have helped American women to cross some of society’s most entrenched cultural borders for more than a century.

U.S. passports predate the Declaration of Independence, but the documents were issued on an ad hoc basis until the late 1800s, when the process began to standardize. By then, a single woman was issued a passport in her own name, but a married woman was only listed as an anonymous add-on to her husband’s document: “Mr. John Doe and wife.”

“Restrictions on travel rarely took the form of government policy or officials actively preventing women traveling abroad. Rather, restrictions came in the form of accepted social ideas,” says Craig Robertson, author of Passport in America: History of a Document. “Put simply, it was not acceptable for a married woman to travel outside of the country without her husband he, of course, could travel without her. More generally, a married woman’s public identity was tied to her husband, and passports reflected that in being issued to the husband, with his wife being a literal notation.”

Married women were technically required to apply for independent passports if they planned to travel separately from their husbands, though Robertson didn’t find examples of those applications existing before WWI.

The lack of a paper trail may be due to the fact that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most countries didn’t yet require passports in order to enter (Russia and Turkey were notable exceptions). So the absence of a passport wasn’t a deal-breaker for women who wanted to travel independently but found the “passport nuisance” too cumbersome or expensive to bother with.

However, Robertson says that while a passport was not necessarily required, it did represent a written request for protection and assistance from the government. “At least from an official perspective, the passport offered a single woman traveling alone the protection that it was assumed a married woman would get from her husband,” he says.

Ruth Hale as a university student c. 1900 (she entered college at the age of 13). Hale co-founded the Lucy Stone League to support a woman’s right to use her maiden name after marriage. Hollins University/Public Domain

As the passport continued to evolve as an official marker of American citizenship, it attracted the interest of women’s rights activists. Shortly after her wedding in 1917, writer Ruth Hale applied for a passport under her maiden name before departing for France to work as a war correspondent. Her request was denied, and when Hale returned to New York a year later, she embarked on what became a lifelong crusade to use her maiden name on legal documents. In 1920, Hale was issued a passport under the name “Mrs. Heywood Broun, otherwise known as Ruth Hale.” She returned the document, and though the State Department experimented with various alternative phrasings, Hale never received a passport she found acceptable.

Left: Ruth Hale’s passport application Right, affidavit supporting her case for a passport in her maiden name. National Archives and Records Administration/Public Domain

Instead, the bureaucratic back-and-forth inspired Hale to co-found the Lucy Stone League, a group dedicated to protecting a woman’s right to her maiden name. “The Lucy Stone League saw passports as the most important battle of all because passports were the ultimate form of identification,” says Susan Henry, author of Anonymous in Their Own Names: Doris Fleischman, Ruth Hale, and Jane Grant. “A married woman who kept her name would truly preserve her independent identity if her passport name was her birth name. Beyond that, the Lucy Stone League assumed that if the State Department recognized a married woman’s birth name as her legal name, then all government bodies would have to do the same.”

In 1922, a press agent named Doris Fleischman dropped a steamer ticket to Europe along with an ultimatum to her boss, the publicist Edward L. Bernays: “If you’re not going to marry me, I’m leaving.” Bernays duly proposed, and Fleischman decided to go to Europe anyway. With the help of the “Lucy Stoners,” Fleischman applied for a passport under her maiden name, and in April 1923, she received a document issued to “Doris Fleischman Bernays, professionally known as Doris E. Fleischman.” She then embarked on a three-month business trip across Europe — without her new husband. (Her adventures included delivering a dozen tins of coffee and a crate of grapefruits to Sigmund Freud in Vienna.)

Doris Fleischman’s passport application, noted her to be “professionally known” by her maiden name. Her application, unlike Hale’s, was accepted. National Archives and Records Administration/Public Domain

In 1925 the Lucy Stoners encouraged Fleischman to take another crack at the State Department, in order to prod the agency into overturning its rule against issuing passports to married women solely in their maiden names. “Despite arguments about whether a married woman could be known and identified through her maiden name, much of the official concern seemed to be about the ‘embarrassment’ of the perception it would create, i.e. that although a married man was traveling with his wife, it would appear that he was traveling with a single woman because she did not have his name,” says Robertson of the agency’s reluctance to capitulate.

This time, Fleischman added a note to her passport application, which read: “Since it is apparent that the purpose of a passport is to establish identity, I assume you will not wish me to travel under a false name.” Though other women had recently filed similar suits, Fleischman’s application set off a press firestorm, thanks in no small part to her expertise as a publicist. In June, a passport was issued to “Doris E. Fleischman,” who promptly set sail for France, this time with her husband in tow.

Doris E. Fleischman, the first American married woman to travel on a maiden name passport, arriving in New York City in 1923 with her husband Edward L. Bernays. Bettman/Getty Images

Fleischman’s passport was the first legal document issued by a federal agency to a woman under the name she preferred and the first U.S. passport issued to a married woman that didn’t designate her as the “wife of” her husband. However, though other women could request passports with similar wording as Fleischman’s, the State Department continued to issue passports referring to most women as “the wife of Mr. John Doe” until the late 1930s.  

The decision to drop marital information entirely was unceremoniously announced in a 1937 memo by longtime Passport Division head Ruth Shipley, who later became notorious for denying passports to suspected communists during the Cold War. Shipley’s memo was surprisingly straightforward considering the length and public acrimony of the battle over a woman’s right to travel under the name of her choice. It read in part: “because our position would be very difficult to defend under any really definite and logical attack, it seems the part of wisdom to make the change.”

And with that, women’s rights advocates gave American passports their stamp of approval.

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A Brief History of the United States passport

Pictured is an example of an early U.S. passport, found in the Hasselman-Blood family papers (MSS L385). The first United States passports were issued during the American Revolution. Early American passports were modeled after the French passports at the time and looked much like this example from 1873. This style was used from 1789 until 1900. This passport is slightly larger than 11 x 17 inches. On the left side, it gives a physical description of the bearer including age, height, and facial features. There is a passport number, but no explicit expiration date given. This particular passport was issued to Watson J. Hasselman of Indianapolis. This passport also boasts a large State Department watermark.

Although the State Department issued passports beginning in 1789, states and cities were also able to issue passports to citizens until 1856. Passports not issued by the State Department, however, were not often recognized by other nations. During this period, the United States did not require a passport to enter or exit the country, but that changed at the start of U.S. involvement in World War II. Passports were not standardized until after World War I. The booklet layout that people recognize today was introduced in 1926.

Averbach, Scott, “The History of the US Passport,” Passport Info Guide , September 13, 2014, Accessed October 12, 2016, http://passportinfoguide.com/the-history-of-the-us-passport/ .

Woodward, Richard B., “Book Review: The Passport in America,” The New York Times , September 22, 2010, Accessed October 12, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/travel/26armchair.html?_r=0 .

Please email the Indiana State Library with any questions, comments, suggestions or corrections.

Visa to Russia

According to the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated March 16, 2020 № 635-r only limited categories of visas can be currently issued. The issuance of most types of visas is currently suspended. This suspension is part of a complex package of measures of the Government of the Russian Federation aimed at preventing the spread of new coronavirus infection COVID-19.

To check information on the restrictions, please refer to the link.
To protect public health, please wear face mask and gloves while visiting the Consular Section. Body temperature will be checked at the entrance.

I. In accordance with the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on the simplification of visa formalities for nationals of the Russian Federation and nationals of the United States of America, the US citizens shall as a rule be issued multiple-entry business, private, humanitarian and tourist visas that are valid for three years (36 months) from the date of issue of the visa.

Please have a look at the recommended list of documents for the submission of additional information regarding 3-year multiple-entry business, private, humanitarian, and tourist visas.


  1. According to the Agreement it is recommended that you submit your documents for obtaining a 3-year multiple-entry visa at least 8 working days prior to your intended date of entry into Russia.
  2. When filling out the electronic visa application form at: http://visa.kdmid.ru please choose «multiple» from the drop-down menu and indicate a 3-year period of stay starting from the date of entry in your visa support documents (invitation).
  3. Your Visa Application must be accompanied by an invitation from the hosting party. Copies or facsimilies of the invitation are acceptable.
  4. A multiple-entry visa allows subsequent trips with a purpose other than what was initially indicated in the visa. Thus, the new purpose of each trip and information on the new hosting organization must be indicated in the Migration Card form in order to clear Russian customs and border control.
  5. The passport of the applicant, as a rule, must be valid for at least full six months after the visa expiry date.

The Consular Section of the Russian Embassy in the USA informs on reaching an agreement with the American side on resuming from March 4th, 2019 practice of levying fee of $160 for all types of visas issued in accordance with the bilateral Agreement of 2011 on the simplification of visa formalities for nationals of the Russian Federation and nationals of the United States of America.

IV. New Russian Visa Center in the United States

Contact details of the Visa Center in Washington, D.C.

Address of the Visa Center
1025 Vermont Avenue NW St.#200
Washington, D.C. 20005
Business Hours
Monday and Wednesday: 9.00 a.m. - 12.30 p.m.

[email protected] russia-visacentre.com

V. Foreign applicants for Russian visas can apply directly to the Consular Division of the Embassy of the Russian Federation.

Prior to submitting your visa application to a Russian consulate you must make an appointment on the following web-site. For applying directly at the Embassy you are required to appear in person for a visa interview at the Consular Division from 9 a.m. till 12.15 p.m. Please, comply with the general visa obtaining procedure and have available all the documents concerning your trip. Touristvisa processing agencies have to submit applications only to the Russian Visa Center .

VI. All applications for Russian visas submitted in the United States must be prepared using the electronic visa application form at the website http://visa.kdmid.ru.

Russian visa applications prepared using the old format or in a different way are not accepted any more.

VII. Information for Turkish citizens

In accordance with the Decree № 583, issued by the President of the Russian Federation on November 28, 2015, the procedure for entering the Russian Federation for citizens of the Republic of Turkey, bearers of a regular Turkish passports, has been revised.

As of January 1, 2016, Turkish citizens bearing said passports will be required to obtain a Russian visa issued by a diplomatic or consular division of the Russian Federation. (For more information please visit our website http://visa.kdmid.ru).

This does not affect Turkish citizens:

  • bearing temporary residency permits or permanent residency cards for the territory of the Russian Federation
  • bearers of special or official passports, traveling to the Russian Federation for less than 30 days
  • bearing special or official passports who are working at diplomatic missions and consulates of the Republic of Turkey on the territory of the Russian Federation, and their family members who hold valid special or official Turkish passports
  • or Turkish citizens who hold a Seaman's Passport, provided they are entering for maritime purposes on ship orders.

Travel to Russia for citizens of most countries requires an entry visa. The Consular Division of the Embassy issues different categories of visas to Russia based upon the purpose of the trip and the duration of stay in Russia.

The following documents should be submitted in order to obtain a visa according to its category:

  1. Completed visa application signed by the Applicant only. Incomplete visa application forms shall not be processed. Application available online at http://visa.kdmid.ru All questions in the application form should be answered. If a question is not applicable to the applicant, he should put &ldquoN/A&rdquo. Each application form must be signed by the visa applicant personally.
  2. Valid national passport (original only and it should have at least two clear visa pages). It must be valid no less than six months after the visa expiration date. Holders of travel documents such us: Permit to Re-Enter the United States of America, Travel Document, etc. must submit valid Permanent Resident Card (an original and a copy).
  3. One picture of an applicant. Russian visa photo specifications (3,5*4,5 centimeters).
  4. Money Order or Certified Bank Check made out to the Russian Consulate for visa processing. Please note that we do not accept cash, credit or debit cards, personal or company checks.
  5. Invitation to Russia from a host person or organisation.

Dear Applicants, when applying for a Russian visa please be advised that

  • In order to expedite and improve visa obtaining process as well as for security concerns the Consular Division is not processing visa applications by mail, starting from June 1, 2010.
  • Non-US citizens should also provide proof of legality of their long-term stay in the USA (US Resident Alien status, form I-94) when applying for a visa.
  • Applicants who used to be citizens of the USSR or the Russian Federation and emigrated from the USSR or from Russia must submit one of the documents which confirms that they are no longer citizens of the Russian Federation (so called "Visa to Israel" or stamp in their passport saying that they left for "permanent residence abroad" before February, 06 1992 or official document certifying that their Russian citizenship was renounced), otherwise the applications will not be accepted.
  • In accordance with Russian laws citizens of the Russian Federation regardless of any other citizenship they may have, must travel to Russia on valid Russian documents only.
  • Visa processing starts only after the Consular Division has collected all necessary documents.
  • Visa processing fee is not refundable.
  • Type of visa or dates of entry/departure can not be changed or extended. If travel plans have changed after the visa issuance an applicant has to reapply for a new visa.
  • After receiving the visa, please check all the data indicated in it and, if necessary, return it to the Consular Division for corrections. The Consular Division will not be responsible for any mistakes in the visas, which were not brought to our attention prior to departure from the US.
  • Any visa applicant may be interviewed by the consular officer, if necessary.
  • Processing time, requirements and fees are subject to change without notice.
  • In certain cases the Consular Division is entitled to consider visa applications as long as it necessary. Visa can be denied if the Consular Division has serious reasons to believe that an applicant's entry into or stay in the territory of the Russian Federation will not be desirable.
  • Please be advised that person can not have two valid visas in one passport. In this case the first visa is to be cancelled.

Information for EU Passport Holders

On the 1st of June, 2007 the Russia-EU Visa Facilitation Agreement came into force and according to its provisions visa processing fees are changed for the citizens of the following countries:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Germany, Finland, France, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia.

Citizens of these countries should submit national medical insurance certificate valid for Russia or guarantee of medical coverage from a Russian hosting organization for all period of stay. Medical insurance certificate should contain Russian contact phone number for emergency or assistance.

However these provisions are not valid for the countries which did not sign the Agreement: the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway.

Holders of diplomatic passports of the countries mentioned above do not need a visa to enter Russia for 90 days.

Please note, that according to the Russia-EU Visa Facilitation Agreement visa fees for EU passport holders are fixed in Euros.

Russian Internal Passport Renewal

Here at RUSSIAN AGENCY we are often asked about how to renew a Russian internal passport if you live in the United States or in Canada. As you know Russian citizens need to obtain a new Russian internal passport in the following situations:
– First time application for a child after turning 14 years of age
– After reaching 20 years of age and 45 years of age
– After an official name change
– If the passport is damaged or lost.
However, the Russian Consulates and Embassies abroad are not authorized or set up to issue Russian internal passports. This can only be done through the Ministry of Internal Affairs on the territory of Russia.

RUSSIAN AGENCY offers Russian i nternal p assport renewals for all the citizens of the Russian Federation permanently living or temporarily staying in the U.S., Canada, and other countries. You can apply and receive your documents at any of the RUSSIAN AGENCY offices or also by mail.

Do I need to have a Russian i nternal passport if I permanently live in the United States or Canada?

The answer is, for Russian citizens permanently living abroad their Russian travel passport is their main document of the Russian Federation which proves their identity.

In this case there is no need to apply for a Russian i nternal passport . It is enough to have a valid Russian travel passport and to apply for a new travel passport in advance. We highly recommend to apply for this a few months before expiration, because the processing time is 3 or 4 months.

Russian citizens who do not have an i nternal passport and their travel passport is expired will not be able to apply right away for a new travel passport . First, they must go through confirmation of citizenship, which takes a few months. Only after your citizenship is confirmed you will be eligible to apply for a new travel passport . This is the reason we recommend to apply for a new travel passport well before your current passport expires.

However, there are many circumstances from our experience when Russian citizens permanently living abroad have needed a Russian Internal passport . For example, to get an inheritance in Russia , real estate transactions, and many other situations.

That is why Russian Agency offers services for Russian i nternal passport processing in the U.S. and Canada without it being necessary to travel to Russia .

The following are available options for renewals and first time Russian Internal Passports :

  • Renewals at the age of 20 or 45. The processing time is 2-3 months, the processing fee is $1,500.00.
  • Requests for new passports due to name changes, including name changes after marriage.Processing time is 2-3 months, the processing fee is $1,500.00.
  • Replacements of Soviet Union Internal Passports to new i nternal R ussian p assports for Russian citizens (a valid Russian travel p assport is required to apply). Processing time is 2-3 months, the processing fee is $1,800.00.

Please CALL our TOLL FREE numbers (888) 9- RUSSIA or (888) 978-7742 about our fees because the pricing is subject to change .


STEP 1 (you should mail the following items to us):

  • Your previous internal passport , which will be returned to the archives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Russia , or your original birth certificate if you are applying for your first internal passport . If you are applying with your original birth certificate, it will be returned to you along with your new internal passport ( important: if you previous internal passport was lost or stolen, we won’t be able to process your order)
  • If you apply for a name change an original government document related to name changes is required. For example a marriage certificate, court order, divorce decree, adoptions decree and others. All the government documents from foreign countries must have apostilles or government authentication. Please see the list of countries which issue apostilles for official documents. Official documents from other countries (not on the list) must have a government authentication. Our agency will have the name change documents and an apostille/authentication translated into Russian . This translation will be certified by a notary of the Russian Federation. All the the translation and certification services are included in the processing fee and you will not be charge extra for this
  • Payment of processing and shipping fees. We accept personal checks, money orders, and cashier checks . All the checks should be made payable to RUSSIAN AGENCY.

STEP 2 — (you should either mail or email the following items to us):

  • completed application
  • passport photo
  • a copy of the main page of your valid or expired Russian Travel Passport (if you have one)
  • a copy of your birth certificate,
  • if you apply for an internal passport for a minor under the age of 18 a copy of a valid internal passport of one of the parents or guardians is required (a copy of the main page).

When the new internal passport is ready we will contact you by email and and include a copy of the passport ’s main page. Also, we will provide you with the shipping label which has all the information, including a tracking number and estimated time of delivery.

Who issued the passports for travel to Russian America? - History

Guide to Doukhobor Passport & Visa Records

Passports and visas are among the often overlooked documents that we may have about our Doukhobor ancestors. An official document issued by a country to one of its citizens, the passport allows an individual to leave and return to his or her country of citizenship and facilitates travel from one country to another. A visa, by contrast, is an endorsement by the country to be visited permitting entry into that country. The following guide describes Russian and Canadian passport and visa records used historically by Doukhobors - their background, content, usefulness and availability.

In Russia, the passport system was introduced in 1719 during the reign of Peter the Great. Whereas in most European countries, the main task of the passport system was to ensure peace and order, in Russia the passport also served as a means to regulate tax payments, military service and other obligations to the state. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, both internal passports and foreign passports were issued to Russian citizens.

Internal passports were issued to Russian citizens who traveled within the Empire outside of their registered place of residence. These passports were granted for a limited period (depending on social class) and then had to be renewed. Note that on occasion, for one reason or another, such passports would be denied to Doukhobor applicants. Citizens were required to present their internal passports on demand to Tsarist officials. Those found away from their registered place of residence without passports were subject to fines or imprisonment. Restrictions on passports were eventually lifted in 1903 and the internal passport system was abandoned altogether after the Revolution.

Russian internal passport No. 1305 issued August 21, 1917. Photo courtesy Mikhail Kroutikhin.

Issued by district police officers, the internal passport included the following data: the name, patronymic and surname, occupation, age, faith, place of residence, social class and facial features of the citizen, as well as date of issue, destination, duration and purpose of travel. Accompanying family members were listed in the same passport. It was printed in Russian.

There is no centralized repository of internal passports in Russia. Many of these records were lost and destroyed by war and revolution. Those that have survived are housed in various regional and state archives. Individual copies of internal passports issued to Doukhobors may have also survived among family papers and memorabilia in Canada. Researchers who come across these rare records should take steps to ensure their preservation.

Foreign passports were required by citizens of Imperial Russia in order to travel abroad. These passports were granted for a limited period of five years. Arriving at the Russian border station or port of departure, the traveller had to present his or her passport to border officers for inspection. If approved, the passport was stamped and returned to the traveller. However, if the passport was not in order, it was not stamped and the traveller had no chance to pass across the frontier.

Note that the 7,500 Doukhobors who emigrated from Russia in 1899 were issued foreign passports but not permitted to keep them. They were confiscated prior to their departure. This was because the Doukhobors were permitted to leave Russia only on the condition that they never return. However, the 1,160 Doukhobors who emigrated from Russia after 1899 were issued foreign passports and permitted to retain them like other Russian citizens.

Russian foreign passport No. 5026 issued to Ivan Evseyevich Konkin & family on July 24, 1904.

Issued by local governors, the foreign passport included the following data: the name, patronymic and surname, occupation, age, faith, place of residence, information about the family, facial features and photo (sometimes) of the citizen, as well as date of issue, destination and purpose of travel. The passport stamp also indicated the date of inspection as well as the border station or port of departure. Accompanying family members were listed in the same passport. It was printed in Russian.

There is no centralized repository of foreign passports in Russia. As with internal passports, many foreign passports were lost and destroyed by wars and revolution. Those that have survived are housed in various regional and state archives.

Some foreign passports were collected by Russian consuls in Canada. The Likacheff-Ragosine-Mathers (LI-RA-MA) Collection at the National Archives of Canada consists of documents created by the Imperial Russian Consular offices in Canada during the period from 1898 to 1922. The Passport/Identity Papers series consists of 11,400 files on immigrants from the Russian Empire who settled in Canada. The files include documents such as passport applications and background questionnaires. However, only ten of these files relate to Doukhobor immigrants. See the Index of Doukhobors in the LI-RA-MA Collection for a listing of individual files.

Prior to 1923, it was unnecessary for immigrants to possess a valid passport in order to gain entry into Canada. Regardless, those immigrants who had passports issued in their homelands kept them they were not required to surrender them to the Government of Canada. Consequently, copies of Russian foreign passports issued to Doukhobors (who emigrated after 1899) may have survived among family papers and memorabilia in Canada. Researchers who come across these rare records should take steps to ensure their preservation.

Since 1862, the Government of Canada has issued passports to Canadian citizens for travel to a foreign country. Early passports were issued as single-sheet certificates with the official seal. In 1915, Canada switched to the British form of passport, a ten-section single sheet folder printed in English only. Then, in 1920, Canada adopted a booklet-type passport. Since 1926, Canadian passports have been printed bilingual. Until 1947, two kinds of passports were issued in Canada, one for British-born citizens and one for naturalized citizens. That same year, the Canadian Citizenship Act, which stipulates that only Canadian citizens are eligible for a Canadian passport, came into effect. Canadian passports are valid for five years.

Canadian passport No. 17928 issued to Koozma & Polly Tarasoff on November 13, 1931.

Issued from 1862 to 1947 by the Governor General, and since 1947 by the Minister of External Affairs, the Canadian passport includes the following data: the name and surname, date of birth, place of birth, place of residence, physical description, photo, occupation (sometimes), nationality, date of naturalization and photo of the citizen, as well as date of issue and expiry.

There is no centralized repository of Canadian passports. The Government of Canada did not keep copies of passport applications nor passports issued to its citizens. Individual copies may be found among family papers and memorabilia.

Note: a special collection of passports for Doukhobor leader Peter "Chistiakov" Verigin from 1934 to 1936 and a delegation of Doukhobors to Russia in 1931 is housed at the National Archives of Canada (RG25, External Affairs, Volume 1580, File 1931-1935).

Many countries require possession of a valid visa as a condition of entry for foreigners. A visa is a formal endorsement by the government of a country giving a certain individual permission to enter the country for a given period of time and for certain purposes. Visas are typically stamped or attached into the recipient's passport.

Since 1923, immigrants have had to secure a Canadian visa in order to gain entry into Canada. Prior to that time, a visa was unnecessary. It follows that most Doukhobors did not require a visa when they immigrated to Canada, having done so prior to 1923. However, they may have required a foreign visa if they subsequently travelled abroad from Canada.

The need or absence of need of a visa generally depends on the citizenship of the applicant, the intended duration of the stay, and the activities that the applicant may wish to undertake in the country he or she visits these may delineate different formal categories of visas, with different issuance conditions. Examples of different visas include: transit visas, tourist visas, business visas, student visas, research visas, diplomatic visas, journalist visas and work visas.

U.S. visa issued to John Nichvolodoff and family on April 4, 1923. Click photos to view larger images.

Depending on the issuing country, a visa typically includes the following data: the name and surname, date of birth, place of birth, place of residence, occupation, nationality, photo and personal references of the traveller, as well as the date of issue, destination, length and purpose of travel. Accompanying family members are often listed. It is printed in the official language of the issuing country.

Passports and visas are, of course, sources of limited value. They are of use only if your Doukhobor ancestor travelled abroad and was required to secure them. Those that still exist may be difficult to locate. Nevertheless, where they are found among personal records, they can be an excellent source of information for genealogists. The researcher should never assume that a Doukhobor ancestor did not require these documents.

As a source for anything other than the traveling done on that passport or visa, passports and visas are generally considered a secondary source rather than a primary source of genealogical information. Nevertheless, this does not negate the information one might find in these documents. The information contained in these documents should be cross-referenced with other sources to ensure their accuracy.

  • Canadian Genealogy Centre, "Passports". Retrieved Apr. 09, 2005, from www.genealogy.gc.ca.html.
  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada, "Forging Our Legacy: Canadian Citizenship and Immigration, 1900-1977". Retrieved Apr. 09, 2005, from http://www.cic.gc.ca.html.
  • Government of Canada, C anadian passport No. 17928 issued November 13, 1931.
  • Greenwood, Val D., "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy", 3rd Ed., (Baltimore: The Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000).
  • Imperial Russia, Foreign Passport No. 5026 issued July 24, 1904.
  • Imperial Russia, Internal Passport No. 1305 issued August 21, 1917.
  • McLure, Rhonda R . (2000). "Passports - Primary or Secondary Material?" Retrieved Apr. 09, 2005, from Overhead in GenForum Web site: http://www.genealogy.com.html.
  • National Archives of Canada, LI-RA-MA Collection, Passport/Identity Series, Microfilm Nos. H1971-H1975.
  • Passport Canada, "History of Passports" . Retrieved Apr. 09, 2005, from http://www.ppt.gc.ca.asp.
  • United States of America, Declarations of Aliens About to Depart For the United States, dated April 4, 1923.

This article was reproduced by permission in the Bulletin Vol. 36 No. 2 (Regina: Saskatchewan Genealogical Society, June 2005).

Contents of the Doukhobor Genealogy Website Copyright © 1999-2014 Jonathan J. Kalmakoff. All rights reserved.

Passports for Minors Under the Age of 18

The Department of State has rules to prevent children from being issued U.S. passports without the consent of both parents. It also has programs to protect children involved in custody disputes. These work to prevent a parent from taking a child abroad without the other parent's consent.

Children Must Apply for Passports in Person

All children must apply or reapply for a U.S. passport in person at a passport acceptance facility.

Children under 16 need parental consent and their parents must:

Be present with their children

Provide a signed, notarized statement saying they know that their child is seeking a passport or

Attend the appointment with them

If you're living overseas, contact a U.S. embassy or consulate in the country you're in for information on how to apply for your child's passport.

Protections for Children in Custody Disputes

If you think your child has been abducted internationally, call the Department of State at 1-888-407-4747. Ask to speak to a prevention officer.

The Department of State has other resources to help parents and children in custody disputes.

Find out how to protect your child if they have, or may have, dual nationality.

See how women traveled in 1920

Women’s Equality Day celebrates the year the 19th Amendment gave (most) women the right to vote—but travel was often a different matter entirely.

What was it like for women to travel in 1920? Well, that all depends on who you were and where you were going.

That was the year many American women won the right to vote with the 19th Amendment, now remembered on August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. The amendment didn’t apply to all women, since Native people, Asian immigrants, and black women in the south still couldn’t vote for decades. And women's safe access to travel was similarly patchy.

If you were married and traveling abroad, your husband probably had one passport that identified both of you as “Mr. John Doe and wife.” That’s because only unmarried women could get a passport with their birth name. If a married woman applied for her own passport to travel alone, it would still arrive in her husband’s name as “Mrs. John Doe.”

But really, you weren’t supposed to travel alone in the first place.

“Whether she’s traveling alone in the name of her husband or whether she’s unmarried and traveling alone … in all situations it represents something sort of outside of the norm,” says Craig Robertson, a media historian at Northwestern University and author of The Passport in America.

Despite this, there were still women who traveled alone in 1920, some of whom didn’t like carrying passports in their husband’s name—like journalist Ruth Hale, who founded the Lucy Stone League in 1921 to combat the issue. Four years later, the league helped writer Doris E. Fleischman became the first married woman to receive a passport in her given, or “maiden,” name.

Not everyone had equal access to international travel. In particular, Native Americans weren’t U.S. citizens and couldn’t even travel freely in their own nations. But for black women who could afford it, international travel provided a way to evade racist constraints in the U.S. In 1920, Bessie Coleman obtained a passport and went to aviation school in France because no U.S. flying school would accept her. It was only by getting out of the country that Coleman became the first black woman in the U.S. to hold a pilot’s license.

However, the U.S. also denied a passport to at least one prominent black woman. Activist and journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a frequent traveler to Europe in the 1890s, when passports weren’t as necessary. But 1918 was a different story: The U.S. refused to issue her a passport to travel to the Paris Peace Conference because it considered her “a known race agitator.”

Wells-Barnett was certainly no stranger to travel discrimination in the U.S. In the 1880s, she made a name for herself by suing a train company that kicked her off of a first-class ladies’ car (she won, but the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned the ruling). Black women faced the same discrimination on public transportation in 1920, a period when many moved north during the Great Migration.

“Certainly you see a lot of fiction of the Harlem Renaissance dealing with those kinds of travels … women going both west and north for opportunity,” says Shealeen Meaney, an English professor at The Sage Colleges.

The Harlem Renaissance writer Nella Larsen “was particularly interested in mixed-race women and the issue of racial passing,” Meaney says. Her novellas Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929) feature traveling women “who experience both gaining entry to white environments and being excluded from white environments based on whether individuals recognized them and labeled them as black or white.”

Automobiles provided an alternative to public transportation, but they weren’t always a safe choice for black women who had access to them. The Negro Motorist Green Book—which detailed where it was and wasn’t safe to stop in the Jim Crow South—wouldn’t come out until 1936. And so although black resorts in the north and south provided a safe place for black Americans to vacation, driving to them was dangerous if you didn’t know where you could safely stop for gas.

In contrast, middle-class white women who had access to cars around 1920 might take a cross-country trip with their friends over the summer and publish travel writing about their car trips. Writer Maria Letitia Stockett even seems to have anticipated the United States’ largest car film franchise—she titled her road trip narrative: America: First, Fast, and Furious.

Much like voting rights, travel wasn’t the same for all women in 1920. White women could participate with much more freedom than black women, who could vote in the north but couldn’t in the south until 1965. Similarly, Native women weren’t citizens until 1924 and didn’t win full voting rights in every state until 1962. So when you throw your Women’s Equality Day rager this Sunday, remember that it’s not just the first victory that’s important—it’s all of them.