Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Passport Notation Tidbits

Posted by Ann Rabinowitz

Passport Application – Simon Rosenberg
(Courtesy Ancestry.com)

The other day, I happened upon a passport application which proved to be quite interesting for the information it provided. It was for a Simon Rosenberg, born in Kovno, Russia (now Kaunas, Lithuania) on May 15, 1874, who was applying to go to Australia in 1923. He had arrived in the United States on April 10, 1891, and then had been naturalized on April 23, 1898.

He was a clothing manufacturer and was living at 900 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. His son, Charles Rosenberg, a letter carrier (post office employee), who lived at the same address, signed an affidavit attesting to the fact that he had known him for twenty-nine years which meant that he had been born around 1894.

A photograph of the applicant was included as these were added on the applications processed after December 21, 1914. In addition, there was a detailed description of the applicant as well.

Age: 48 years
Stature: 5 feet, 4 inches
Forehead: Medium
Eyes: Brown
Nose: Roman
Distinguishing marks: None
Mouth: Moustached
Chin: Square
Hair: Dark Brown
Complexion: Dark Ruddy
Face: Round

Nothing unusual about all that, at all, but what was unusual was that Simon Rosenberg was required to sign the following affidavit for the State and County of New York which I was not familiar with. It may have been a result of the new restricted immigration quotas which went into effect as of July 1, 1923:
I, the undersigned, an applicant for a passport, solemnly swear that I have not in the past and will not in the future, either directly or indirectly, solicit or advertise for money to be used in bringing immigrants or aid any emigrant, other than the members of my immediate family, to come to the United States, and will in no manner engage in or assist others engaged in inducing emigration to the United States; that in case I enter countries or sections of countries where disturbed conditions exist I will do so upon my own responsibility; that I will not digress from the purposes for which a passport is issued to me, unless such passport is properly amended; and that I will scrupulously observe the laws and regulations of the countries through which I may travel or in which I may reside.

I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.
In addition to the above Affidavit, a note was also attached from the Passport Examiners, dated February 26, 1923, regarding the passport application, to wit:
Applicant apparently wished to avoid stating in application that he will visit Lithuania. Only Australia was at first asked for.

I asked applicant if he has relatives in Australia, to which he answered that he has and named the relationship. I then asked him if he would go to Russia. He replied, “I expect to be in Europe, later.” I asked, “How about Lithuania?” Applicant replied that he would go there, “but not at present,” and a moment later repeated, “but not now.” Consequently application was amended by me to include Lithuania before being sworn to. Applicant signed the attached immigration affidavit without reading it, but after having read it upon my advice he stated “I’m glad I signed it.”
The amended portion of the application now read “Australia to visit relatives and Lithuania to visit relatives & see old home”. Unfortunately, the paperwork doesn’t include anything referencing who the relatives were in either Australia or Lithuania.

Of further interest is that the applicant was going to sail from San Francisco to Australia on March 15, 1923. There is no manifest showing him leaving San Francisco, but there are shipping records that show him making a return journey and leaving Australia for home. Evidently, he embarked in Melbourne, Australia (no date provided), on the purpose-built Australia-London run ship, the SS Largs Bay, which was owned by the Australian Commonwealth Line.

Shipping Line which owned the SS Largs Bay
(Courtesy Ships List)

The ship was named for the bay located in the State of South Australia where the city of Adelaide was also situated. The itinerary for the ship was Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle, Colombo, Port Said, Plymouth and London. The voyage may have taken approximately six weeks or more. Given that time frame, Simon arrived in Plymouth, England, on October 5, 1923. Quite a journey!

The next shipping record found is for when he then left Southampton, England, on November 1, 1923, on the USS America, which was part of the United States Lines (it operated under their auspices from 1920-1931). He arrived back home in New York on November 11, 1923, and was met by his wife Betsy and children Charles, Jewles (sp.) and Helen Rosenberg.


USS America
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

An interesting question, at this point, is did he actually make it to Lithuania after all, and, if so, when did he manage to do it? It is possible that he left England and went to Lithuania before returning home. However, there are no outbound records existing which would prove that.

So, this will remain a mystery unless Simon Rosenberg’s descendants know the answer or further ships’ manifests are made available or located.

In any event, this foray into unraveling the data provided by the passport application has provided quite a bit of genealogically-significant information and clues to further discoveries about Simon Rosenberg’s family.

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