Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Passport Project

February 16, 2020

Passport ProjectOn Monday March 2, 2020, we will request passport files for the last set of 26 volunteers in Phase One of the Freedom of Information Act Project. The project started in May 2018 with a request to Office of Legal Affairs and Law Enforcement Liaison, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Passport Services, United States Department of State for the passport applications of six volunteers. The goal of the project is to obtain records and photographs of the American volunteers who served in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. Phase One comprised more than 475 FOIA requests.

Record requests in Phase One were primarily for volunteers identified as having died, been killed in action, or missing in action in Spain. Each request includes a PowerPoint slide that contains, at a minimum, the volunteer’s name, date of birth, passport number and date of issue, current biographical information, and date of death. The submission included additional information, as available, including a screen shot of the Scope of Soviet Activity in the United States entry, photographs, and verification of death (obituary or primary source death notice).

To date, the State Department has fulfilled 196 passport application records requests. An additional 19 requests were returned noted as unable to find.[1] The, State Department office handles requests in the order they receive them. On average, it takes between 6 and 9 months for a request to be processed.

Because passport applications typically include the holder’s date and place of birth, father’s date and place of birth, and vocation, they sometimes generated new lines for research. When information from the passport is entered into it led in many instances to other family pages. Passport applications also include a photograph. For some of the volunteers it is the only known photograph.

Phase Two of the project begins April 2, 2021. It will involve approximately 1,200 submissions over four years. This phase researches volunteers who survived the war. The key pieces of information for submission for these volunteers is their passport number and an obituary.[2]

ALBA will publish new photographs and revised biographical data entries once the new ALBA Website launches.



[1] The passport office elected to destroy numerous records. Those removed are generally marked with a single document that notes the passport number and name confirming a passport was issued.

[2] Dr. Ray Hoff’s Friends and Family of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (FFALB) Memorial Day project added may obituaries