Proof of identity and permission to travel
James Barrett was born in 1862. He graduated in medicine at the University of Melbourne. In 1887 he proceeded to Kings College, London to qualify in surgery. After several appointments at London hospitals, he joined the staff of the medical school at the University of Melbourne, later becoming a surgeon at the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. During World War I he was a lieutenant-colonel in the Australian Army Medical Corps.
In 1931 Barrett succeeded Sir John Monash as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne and was appointed Chancellor from 1934 to 1939. Barrett was active in public affairs, and was particularly interested in the British Empire, Japanese affairs and the role of the University. He travelled extensively both during and after the war and this is evidenced by his passport, held in his personal papers at UMA.
Such documents at this time provided permission from the British Secretary of State for the bearer to travel and were essentially credentials of identity. World War I saw countries tighten their security measures and develop a stricter system of passport control. After the war, the passing of the Defence of the Realm Act of 1915 meant British citizens (Australians included) were required to possess passports whenever they entered or left their own country.