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Bookewyrme
02-14-2010, 01:40 AM
Hi!
I've been trying to find any kind of information on forms of identification in the Victorian Era. Did they use some kind of documentation, such as a passport? If so, what was it like, and how did one usually get one?

All of my searches so far haven't brought up a single thing about identity documents that far back, so in despair I am turning to my friendly AW compatriots. Any help is welcome.

Thank you in advance!

Shakesbear
02-14-2010, 02:20 AM
Where do you mean? UK, US, Europe?

Bookewyrme
02-14-2010, 02:30 AM
Oh yes, sorry. UK and/or Western Europe. Good question Shakesbear!

Shakesbear
02-14-2010, 06:31 AM
Here is a time line of the history of passports in the UK:
http://www.ips.gov.uk/cps/rde/xchg/ips_live/hs.xsl/1080.htm

I would think that the vast majority of people in the UK would not have needed a passport - mainly because they were in the wrong economic class. Servants would probably have one if their employers were going abroad.

About birth certificates see here:
http://www.exploregenealogy.co.uk/BirthCertificates.html


Other forms of id - well, I am not sure that there were any. I cannot think of anything being mentioned in any books I've read from the times. I'll ask a friend who does lots of family history if she has come across anything.

Medievalist
02-14-2010, 06:39 AM
Letters of Reference--from a clergyman, or someone of note, like the local magistrate, etc.

You did from time to time require various I.D. in parts of Ireland, for instance, under the English.

Shakesbear
02-14-2010, 07:03 AM
Letters of Reference--from a clergyman, or someone of note, like the local magistrate, etc.

You did from time to time require various I.D. in parts of Ireland, for instance, under the English.


Yes! Of course! Weren't there also letters of introduction - if a person went to another part of the country on a visit they would take a letter written by someone who was high up on the social ladder to hand to those they wished to socialize with. I hope that makes sense. Technically speaking though, were they 'forms of identification'? They were not official and were open to abuse.

Medievalist
02-14-2010, 07:29 AM
Yes! Of course! Weren't there also letters of introduction - if a person went to another part of the country on a visit they would take a letter written by someone who was high up on the social ladder to hand to those they wished to socialize with. I hope that makes sense. Technically speaking though, were they 'forms of identification'? They were not official and were open to abuse.

Yes. You can find references in such if you the read collected letters of people like Dickens and Darwin. For women, there seems to have been a separate and slightly odd tradition (at least from an American perspective) where you go to someone's house or place of business, by arrangement, and give them YOUR calling card, and one from the reference, sometimes without a letter. I've seen several instances of this in the U.S.

It's very much like the credentials you provide to use resources at special archives. It works on the modern principle of "six degrees of separation," though they didn't think of it like that.

pdr
02-14-2010, 01:29 PM
a thread on this down in Genres - Historical.

Resources by Era, a sticky in the same section, has a Victorian section which has references you can use.

Bookewyrme
02-14-2010, 06:36 PM
Thanks everyone for the contributions. And I did try the thread in the historicals forum, pdr, but didn't find the information I was looking for from those links. Hence this thread.

I very much appreciate all the help, everyone.