Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost Reviewed in “The Chronicle”

by Phillip Witteveen on May 24, 2013

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She looks harmless enough.” So begins the Chronicle of Higher Education’s review of Jeffrey Kahn’s Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists. But Ruth Bielaski Shipley was in fact one of the most influential civil servants of the early 20th century, a woman whom Franklin D. Roosevelt described as  “a wonderful ogre” for her role as head of the State Department’s Passport’s Office from 1928 to 1955,. In this capacity, she “single-handedly delayed, thwarted, or otherwise constrained the travel plans of thousands of Americans,”  writes the Chronicle’s Nina C. Ayoub in her review of Kahn’s book.

The Chronicle recounts the chance article that spurred Kahn’s interest in his subject, and said that he had related to the paper in a phone interview his shock that “citizenship could be so ephemeral and could be so quickly tossed to one side to do abroad what could never be done inside the United States, essentially threatening one’s freedom of movement if one doesn’t cooperate with authorities.”

Kahn’s Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost is an investigation into our constitutional rights, and the legacy of Ruth Shipley’s singular control over U.S. travel regulations.

You can read the full article here.

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