The Story Of How Women Got Their Own Travel Passports

The current U.S. international ID incorporates 13 uplifting cites from prominent Americans. Just a single has a place with a lady, the African-American researcher, teacher, and lobbyist Anna J. Cooper. On pages 26-27 are words she wrote in 1892: “The reason for flexibility is not the reason for a race or an order, a gathering or a class—it is the reason for mankind, the very bequest of humankind.”

On the off chance that balance is a trip, then it ought to shock no one that visas have helped American ladies to cross some of society’s most settled in social outskirts for over a century.

U.S. travel papers originate before the Declaration of Independence, however the records were issued on a specially appointed premise until the late 1800s, when the procedure started to institutionalize. By then, a solitary lady was issued a travel permit in her own name, yet a wedded lady was just recorded as an unknown extra to her better half’s report: “Mr. John Doe and spouse.”

“Limitations on travel seldom appeared as government strategy or authorities effectively avoiding ladies voyaging abroad. Or maybe, confinements came as acknowledged social thoughts,” says Craig Robertson, creator of Passport in America: History of a Document. “Put essentially, it was not adequate for a hitched lady to go outside of the nation without her better half; he, obviously, could go without her. All the more by and large, a wedded lady’s open personality was attached to her significant other, and travel papers mirrored that in being issued to the spouse, with his better half being an exacting documentation.”

Hitched ladies were actually required to apply for autonomous international IDs on the off chance that they wanted to travel independently from their spouses, however Robertson didn’t discover cases of those applications existing before WWI.


The absence of a paper trail might be because of the way that in the late nineteenth and mid twentieth hundreds of years, most nations didn’t yet require travel papers with a specific end goal to enter (Russia and Turkey were remarkable exemptions). So the nonattendance of a visa wasn’t a major issue for ladies who needed to travel freely yet found the “international ID disturbance” excessively awkward or costly, making it impossible to trouble with.

Be that as it may, Robertson says that while a visa was not really required, it represented a composed demand for security and help from the legislature. “At any rate from an official point of view, the identification offered a solitary lady voyaging alone the security that it was expected a hitched lady would get from her better half,” he says.

Ruth Hale as a college understudy c. 1900 (she entered school at 13 years old). Robust helped to establish the Lucy Stone League to bolster a lady’s entitlement to utilize her birth name after marriage.

Ruth Hale as a college understudy c. 1900 (she entered school at 13 years old). Sound helped to establish the Lucy Stone League to bolster a lady’s entitlement to utilize her original surname after marriage.

As the international ID kept on developing as an official marker of American citizenship, it pulled in light of a legitimate concern for ladies’ rights activists. Not long after her wedding in 1917, author Ruth Hale connected for a travel permit under her family name before leaving for France to fill in as a war reporter. Her ask for was denied, and when Hale came back to New York a year later, she set out on what turned into a long lasting campaign to utilize her family name on authoritative archives. In 1920, Hale was issued an international ID under the name “Mrs. Heywood Broun, also called Ruth Hale.” She gave back the report, and however the State Department tried different things with different option phrasings, Hale never got a travel permit she discovered worthy.


Rather, the bureaucratic forward and backward enlivened Hale to help establish the Lucy Stone League, a gathering devoted to ensuring a lady’s entitlement to her family name. “The Lucy Stone League considered travel papers to be the most vital clash of all since international IDs were a definitive type of recognizable proof,” says Susan Henry, creator of Anonymous in Their Own Names: Doris Fleischman, Ruth Hale, and Jane Grant. “A wedded lady who kept her name would genuinely protect her free personality if her international ID name was her original name. Past that, the Lucy Stone League expected that if the State Department perceived a wedded lady’s original name as her legitimate name, then all administration bodies would need to do likewise.”

In 1922, a press operator named Doris Fleischman dropped a steamer ticket to Europe alongside a final offer to her manager, the marketing expert Edward L. Bernays: “In case you’re not going to wed me, I’m taking off.” Bernays appropriately proposed, and Fleischman chose to go to Europe in any case. With the assistance of the “Lucy Stoners,” Fleischman connected for a visa under her birth name, and in April 1923, she got a record issued to “Doris Fleischman Bernays, professionally known as Doris E. Fleischman.” She then set out on a three-month business trip crosswise over Europe — without her new spouse. (Her experiences included conveying twelve tins of espresso and a case of grapefruits to Sigmund Freud in Vienna.)

Doris Fleischman’s identification application, noticed her to be “professionally known” by her original surname. Her application, not at all like Hale’s, was acknowledged.

In 1925 the Lucy Stoners urged Fleischman to take another break at the State Department, so as to nudge the organization into toppling its govern against issuing travel papers to wedded ladies exclusively in their family names. “Notwithstanding contentions about whether a wedded lady could be known and distinguished through her last name by birth, a significant part of the official concern appeared to be about the “shame” of the observation it would make, i.e. that in spite of the fact that a wedded man was going with his better half, no doubt he was going with a solitary lady since she didn’t have his name,” says Robertson of the office’s hesitance to abdicate.

This time, Fleischman added a note to her international ID application, which read: “Since it is evident that the reason for a visa is to build up personality, I accept you won’t wish me to go under a false name.” Though other ladies had as of late recorded comparative suits, Fleischman’s application set off a press firestorm, thanks in no little part to her skill as a marketing expert. In June, a travel permit was issued to “Doris E. Fleischman,” who immediately set sail for France, this time with her significant other close by.

Doris E. Fleischman, the primary American wedded lady to go on a birth name identification, touching base in New York City in 1923 with her better half Edward L. Bernays.

Fleischman’s visa was the main authoritative record issued by a government organization to a lady under the name she favored and the principal U.S. visa issued to a wedded lady that didn’t assign her as the “spouse of” her better half. Be that as it may, however other ladies could ask for travel papers with comparable wording as Fleischman’s, the State Department kept on issueing international IDs alluding to most ladies as “the spouse of Mr. John Doe” until the late 1930s.

The choice to drop conjugal data completely was unceremoniously reported in a 1937 reminder by long-term Passport Division head Ruth Shipley, who later wound up noticeably famous for denying travel permits to suspected communists amid the Cold War. Shipley’s reminder was shockingly clear considering the length and open asperity of the fight over a lady’s entitlement to go under her preferred name. It read to some extent: “on the grounds that our position would be extremely hard to shield under any truly distinct and legitimate assault, it appears the piece of knowledge to roll out the improvement.”