As we enter the summer vacation season, PAW offers a sampling from the University Library’s holdings of passports once owned by alumni and others with Princeton ties. Passports typically arrive as part of personal papers acquired by the Library, according to Don Skemer, curator of manuscripts in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. He estimates there are at least 400 old passports in the department; here are a few of his favorites in the manuscripts division.

Images courtesy Department of Rare Books and Special Collections


It’s said that Richard Halliburton 1921 wanted to be remembered as the most-traveled man who ever lived, and he attracted a worldwide following as a traveler, writer, and lecturer. This passport, issued in June 1934 and covering the 1934–35 period, records visits on its 38 pages to 11 countries stretching from France to Russia to Ethiopia, Egypt, and Turkey — and includes a ticket on the Polish-Palestinian Line. 


Moe Berg ’23 was a star athlete at Princeton and went on to spend parts of 15 years as a major-league baseball player. He also knew half a dozen languages and during World War II worked with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of the CIA, taking on at least one assignment with the CIA after the war. This passport, issued in February 1952, records trips through London, Switzerland, and the Rhein-Main military air base in Germany.


Sylvia Beach grew up in Princeton but spent most of her life in Paris, where her English-language bookshop, Shakespeare and Company, attracted leading Lost Generation authors in the 1920s and 1930s. This April 1929 passport is one of several in the extensive Sylvia Beach Papers. From Paris, she made regular vacation trips to the Isle of Jersey and to Saint-Malo, a resort city in Brittany, in northwest France.

ERNEST DEWALD *1914 *1916

Ernest Dewald *1914 *1916 would go on to become one of America’s “monuments men,” celebrated for their work during World War II finding and saving priceless works of art in Europe. But in 1922, when this passport was issued, Dewald was an art historian planning study and travel through Italy, Gibraltar, France, Switzerland, and the British Isles. Passports like this one that included a large certificate, personally signed by the secretary of state, preceded use of the booklet style that is carried today.


Dated June 10, 1926, this passport shows F. Scott Fitzgerald 1917, his wife Zelda, and daughter “Scottie.” Fitzgerald was issued the booklet-style passport during the first year that the format changed from a large certificate personally signed by the secretary of state (as is shown by the Dewald passport above). This passport documents the Fitzgeralds’ travel to Italy; later passports for Fitzgerald and his wife show trips to Switzerland, France, and Austria.