Walt Disney historical documents

Kurt Gegenhuber just passed me a trove of historical documents relating to Walt Disney -- his records on several US Census reports, his brother Roy's draft card, his passport application (where he lies about his age!) and several international passenger manifests that he appears on, including one for pre-revolutionary Cuba. I've put them all on Flickr for your viewing pleasure. Link (Thanks, Kurt!)


  1. Those are great, Cory. Are they available somewhere more centralized, like the Online Archive of California or other such digital collections aggregation?

  2. These are easily found if you have a membership to Ancestry.com. If you have their “International” membership you could see Charlie Chaplin (as a 12-year-old “worker”), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Virginia Woolf, among other famous people, in the 1901 U.K. census.

  3. Hate to stump for anybody, but Ancestry.com is indeed where I got them. Greatest time-waster EVER, it is, besides being a useful tool. Note that Disney’s passport application shows his signature beneath a pledge to defend the United States Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.

  4. Interesting that all the images are listed on Flickr as being available under a CC license, but at least one of them is an official U.S. government document.

  5. Flickr doesn’t have a no-copyright/public domain license option (!), so I chose the CC-Attribution as the closest thing.

  6. I’d always known, albeit apocryphally, that Disney had lied about his age in an attempt to enlist in the military and fight in the Great War, and while the armed forces caught on to him, the Red Cross allowed him to join. It sounds like one of those finely-crafted stories that PR flacks love:Disney was such a great American that he went to great lengths in a fervor to defend his beloved country, even resorting to outright lying. Wow! Gol-lee! Hail, Columbia!

    However, Walt would have been 16 in November 1918 and this passport shows he lists the Red Cross as his reason for travelling abroad, so it’s really neat to see this kind of corroboration. Wow. Really neat. Thanks for throwing this out to us.

  7. Ancestry.com is a great resource — I’m a genealogy librarian and we use it constantly. Readers might be interested to know that a lot of public libraries subscribe to Ancestry Library Edition, a version of the database that includes most of the records on Ancestry.com. The Generations Network, which owns Ancestry.com, doesn’t allow us to make it available to patrons outside our bricks & mortar libraries (because they want you to subscribe from home), but coming into the library is a small price to pay, considering private subscriptions run to $300 a year.

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