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Passport applications

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 9.02.02 PM.pngIn 1924, the Dick family of New York planned a trip to Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Switzerland. That’s quite a grand tour!

They planned to leave from the port of New York. If I had been Mrs. Dick, I probably would have stayed home. Mrs. Dick was Madeleine Force Astor Dick, who was a young bride when her honeymoon ship met with disaster. Madeleine made it off the Titanic. Her first husband, J. J. Astor, didn’t. Yet, here she was – some 10 years later – planning another trip across the Atlantic.

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Madeleine and her second husband, William Dick.

The Dicks’ joint passport application is in a free collection at  

Included in their application are photos of the family. Here are their three boys (two from Madeleine’s marriage to William Dick and the one from her marriage to J. J. Astor). Unfortunately, the photo wasn’t scanned properly so one of the boys is cut off. Don’t they look thrilled to be taking a European holiday?

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I chose the Dicks because Madeleine was quite famous in her day as a tragic Titanic bride. Truth be told, my ancestors were lowly Louisiana stock who didn’t summer in Europe. I’m not likely to find many of them in the passport collection. But you might find some of your ancestors!

For the rest of us, I’ll take you through a stroll of Gilded Age celebrities.

Here’s Ava Astor, who was J. J. Astor’s first wife. After J. J. divorced her, he married a teen-age Madeleine in the society scandal of the decade.

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Here’s Helen Astor, who was married to J. J.’s son. At one time, she was Madeleine’s stepdaughter-in-law. She and Madeleine were the same age.

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Here’s Madeleine’s stepdaughter, Ava. Her mother was J.J.’s first wife, who also was named Ava.

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Madeleine was the daughter of William and Katherine Force. She had a sister named Katherine who traveled to Europe in 1921 for her own grand tour. Here’s Katherine Emmons Force. To me, the sisters looked very much alike.

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Shifting away from the Astors, the Vanderbilts were another famous family of the Gilded Age. By famous, I mean they were famously rich. Edith Stuyvesant married into this famous family. You may have heard about the house that her husband, George, brought his bride home to: Biltmore. Here’s Edith with their daughter (and only child), Cornelia.

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Huguette Clark created a bit of an uproar a few years when it was revealed that the Gilded Age heiress owned a number of mansions and chose to live in a hospital room. Her father was William A. Clark, who was worth a fortune. Huguette died in 2011 at age 104. Here’s her fortune-building father.

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Moving to Hollywood, silent film stars crisscrossed the Atlantic. That meant they needed a passport.

Dorothy Gish went to England, France and Italy in 1920.

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Look! It’s Mary Miles Minter’s dad. I wonder how much he saw of Mary after her stage mother moved her to Hollywood.

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I’ve always had a fondness for Mabel Normand. She seemed like a tough cookie. It’s a pity she died so young. Mabel never seemed to catch a break.

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And onto the stage.

Known for her tremendous beauty, Julia Bruns had a very sad end. She died on Christmas Eve of alcohol poisoning. She was only 32.

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