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Tue Jun 19, 2018, 07:19 AM

Immigrant Name Changes

https://www.uscis.gov/history-and-genealogy/genealogy/genealogy-notebook/immigrant-name-changes

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 10:20 AM

1. Some reasons are simple and straight forward.

I'm so glad my paternal grandparents didn't change their names.

Thanks for sharing.

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 11:14 AM

2. Some, if not most of the Ellis Island name change stories are bogus.

When you left Europe, your name was written on the ship's manifest. It was either spelled correctly or phonetically. When the ship left port, its projected arrival date and time was sent by telegraph along with names of countries of origin. The transatlantic telegraph was operational from 1858.

Before a ship arrived, translators were notified to be on hand to assist with documenting the ship's passengers. This along with the manifest was used to certify the accuracy of the names of arrivals.

This was important because the U.S. was concerned about European anarchists gaining entry to our ports. Anarchists were the terrorists of their time.


About 15 years ago, staff at Ellis Island National Park published requests for people whose family names were changed at Ellis to come forward to verify their ancestors' stories of the name changes. None were verifiable.

Once the immigrants left Ellis, they could easily change their surname. It was difficult, if not impossible for that to have happened at Ellis.

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Response to 3Hotdogs (Reply #2)

Thu Jul 12, 2018, 12:41 PM

4. I have always thought that the stories of names being changed at Ellis Island to be

only marginally believable. Especially when people claim that the spelling of their name was changed from Andersen to Anderson, or some such trivial alteration. Even more especially as the immigrants weren't exactly given formal documents that they had to use from then on.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #4)

Thu Jul 12, 2018, 03:44 PM

5. Ellis Island staff said that names could be easily changed once you left the island.

There were no central registries like S.S. Birth and baptismal certificates would not follow you here.

I would also guess that the farther west you went, the easier to become whoever you want.

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Response to 3Hotdogs (Reply #5)

Fri Jul 13, 2018, 11:24 AM

6. Yep.

And until relatively recently, it was quite easy for people to simply start using a new name, without bothering with a formal name change. The most obvious is example is women taking their husband's surname at marriage. No formal paperwork needed, the DMV and SS readily allowed such changes, and multiple ones at that for women who married more than once. And people were very casual about putting nicknames on legal paperwork. Not a problem until this Real ID nonsense.

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Original post)

Sat Jul 7, 2018, 05:48 PM

3. All of my female ancestors/relatives from Italy were listed by maiden and not their married names

I have found this practice during early 1900's on Ellis Island manifestos of using women's birth surnames rather than married names quite helpful in tracing the family lineages especially since there were so many common first names.

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Response to no_hypocrisy (Original post)

Sat Nov 24, 2018, 10:12 AM

7. I have name changes on both maternal and paternal sides. Ellis Island wasn't involved.

 

My mother's paternal grandfather kept his Swedish military name after his service, as was fairly common. His siblings were all Olssons, this being in the 1870-1880's - the use of Olsdotter was disappearing in Sweden. Because there were so many common last names and the military tends to give orders containing only the last name, they assigned military names that were more varied. Family legend has it that he was offered a promotion if he would take the retiring sargent's name, but likely it was just assigned.

My dad's paternal grandfather, and his brothers, decided to take their grandfathers last name and lose the patronymic ending in a way. They were also born Olssons (no connection, but shows why the military assigned names). The story goes after they reached their homesteads and got things started, they went into town and asked if there was any mail for them. After going through several sacks of "Olsson" letters and finding nothing for them, they decided that their grandfather's name was less common and a good choice. To make it even less common, they took out the "s" in the ending. As far as I know, everyone with that same last name is a relative to the three brothers that came to the USA from Sweden.

My maternal grand mothers were Norwegian and my maternal grandfather's maother was also Norwegian, so I am more Norwegian than Swedish. I have a Great grandmother who was born in Sweden to Finnish immigrants, so DNA lists me as a eighth Finnish.

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