Today I'd like to tell you about one set of documents that pertain to a Church of God in Christ, Mennonite farmer in Oklahoma who applied for a passport in 1919 so that he could look after business and family interests in Mexico. That farmer was Peter J. Epp (GRANDMA #9711).
Following are the high points of very interesting information that was conveyed in the 12 sheets of paper that were digitized:
What are learn of direct relevance to genealogy:
· Birth date & place
· Marriage place
· # wives
· # of children
· Names and birthdates of two sons
· Existence of a brother living in Canada
· Names of persons who were relatives by marriage
What we learn of the applicant's life choices:
· Places lived since birth
· Need for a passport to go to Mexico
· Church affiliation
· Degree of affinity for pacificism stance
· Position of two sons with regard to the draft, which changed for one son over the course of the period described by the FBI agent
· Degree & date of enhanced affiliation with United States
· Political party affiliation
· Had purchased land in Mexico and for what purpose, including price and legal description of location
· Views regarding preferred climate
· Views of informants regarding the character, opinions, and actions of the person being investigated
What we learn of the culture of the USA and Government at the time:
· Requests for formal documentation merited deep investigation into the facts, opinions and behaviours (including evaluation of appearance) of its residents.
· There appears to have been no apology for what might now be considered intrusions on the privacy of the person being investigated.
· Effort was made to report on the investigation in factual ways, even if regarding subjective information that was provided by persons who took a position against the individual being investigated .
· Persons interviewed were those who were considered dissimilar (not likely to be of the same opinions and actions) to the person under investigation.
· Observations of being “pro” anything that was not considered American was subject to deeper investigation, including commentary of persons who were acquainted with the person being investigated
· The weight of such commentary seems to have been based on willingness to cooperate with the FBI agent, and the degree to which they were established in the community through business and home ownership as well as occupation.
The next post will identify what kinds of documents the 12 sheets were.
In Kinship and for the MHSA,