1955 April 30

Ruth Shipley Retires; “Queendom” of Passports Ends


Ruth Shipley headed the Passport Office from 1928 until this day, and exercised unchecked discretion in denying people passports because of their political views. Some of the more famous passport denial cases involved the famed African-American singer and left-wing political activist Paul Robeson, whose passport was cancelled on August 4, 1950; the noted artist Rockwell Kent, who was denied a passport extension on August 7, 1950; and the distinguished scientist Linus Pauling, who was denied a passport on May 11, 1952.

Secretary of State Dean Acheson labelled Shipley’s often-arbitrary rule as the “Queendom” of Passports. (Trivia: Shipley was the brother A. Bruce Bielaski, an official in the Bureau of Investigation during the repression of dissent during World War I.)

Learn more about Shipley and her legacy: Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists (2013)

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