Ursula Embarks on a New Journey


Ursula’s passport application, 1924. Notice her signature at the bottom of the left-hand page.

Ursula Cheshire Mystery Dancer

Apparently, posing for a passport photo was stern business. Ursula Cheshire (top), age 21; and Clara Cheshire, age 52.

Just as one adventure was ending for Ursula, another was beginning. The very day she graduated from U.C. Berkeley—May 14, 1924—the U.S. Department of State issued passports to Ursula and her mother, Clara. According to Ursula’s passport application, new adventures awaited her in England, Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany, where she was going for “travel and study,” apparently with her mother as chaperone.

I learned from her application that 21-year-old Ursula stood 5 feet, 4 inches—one inch taller than her mother—and had blue eyes and dark brown hair. How cool is it that we have an image of her actual passport application (found on Ancestry.com), signed by her own hand (see above)?!

Mother and daughter were to set sail for Europe from the port of New York aboard the S.S. President Harding. Relatively new, this steel passenger ship was built in 1921 and went into transatlantic service in 1922, powered by two steam turbines. I’m not sure how they got to New York, but at that time, Californians traveled there by ship (sailing through the Panama Canal) or rail. I suspect they went by ship, as that was probably the more comfortable and classy way to travel back then.


S.S. President Harding (1922-1940)

Stay tuned for more about Ursula’s travels, coming in the next post. Bon voyage!