Frank Barnes, seaman.

Frank Barnes applied for a Seaman’s Protection Certificate in August 1917. American seamen carried the document as proof of citizenship in foreign ports. Per his application, Barnes was born 22 January 1895 in Wilson, North Carolina; was not literate; and had been employed since 1915 as a fireman on the S.S. Mauretania en route from New York to France.


Per his description, Barnes was 5’3″, 125 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair and a scar over his right temple. He resided at 1 Doyers Street, New York. [Doyers is a tiny elbow of a lane off The Bowery in Chinatown, and #1 is now home to Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles Inc.]

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Howard Adams, above, and William Smith and Fredrick Woods, below, gave affidavits to establish Barnes’ identification.

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The customs collector testified to Barnes’ citizenship.

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In December 1917, Frank Barnes himself attested that he was born in Wilson in 1894 and that his father Frank Barnes “(probably)” or “believes he was born in” the United States. Barnes had lived in Wilson until 1915 when he began to work in shipping. He had recently worked on three ships: the S.S. Orduna from 1 July to 19 July 1917; the S.S. Carmenia from 26 August to 11 September 1917; and the S.S. Anglo Saxon, 14 November to 14 December 1917.

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Barnes received his identification in December 1917 in Bordeaux, France.

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Detail of the certificate:

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Close-ups of Frank Barnes’ photographs:

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Another photo from Barnes’ 1918 application for a protection certificate:

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U.S. Applications for Seaman’s Protection Certificates, 1916-1940 [database on-line],; original document at Application for Seaman’s Protection Certificates, 1916-1940, Records of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, 1774-1982, Record Group 41, National Archives, Washington, D.C.


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