Re: Male first name of Itzig versus Nitzig #general

Ira Leviton

Dear Cousins,

Steve Heimovitz asked, "My Great Uncle Izzie, emigrated from
Podvolochisk, Russia around 1913-1915. I located a steamship manifest
record for an individual that the indexer interpreted his first name as
Nitzig. US public records show his "Americanized" first name as Israel,
Isidore, and Isadore ... My knowledge of Yiddish is nil... I can sort of
make out the horrible cursive manifest entry as "Itzig". Can someone
elaborate on the correctness of Nitzig versus Itzig for male naming from
that area of Russia?"

I reply... Even if your knowledge of Yiddish is nil, there's no reason
that somebody indexing manifests has any greater knowledge of that
language, or Jewish names. I concede that maybe they were able to
interpret handwriting better because of experience, but I also want to
point out that on the other hand maybe they spent 1/50th the time that you
did analyzing the handwriting on your great uncle's manifest entry.

Seeing a name on an index, especially if it's on the Ellis Island site,
gives it an "official status," but indexing errors are too numerous to
count. That's also true for names on death certificates (although perhaps
less often), other indices, census forms, and other paperwork. Moreover,
the name on an index is once-removed >from its source document.

Nitzig doesn't seem to exist as a name >from Russia, and not anywhere as
a Yiddish or Hebrew first name. (Try Googling" it.) It was most likely
Itzig (or even a variation of that.

Ira Leviton
New York, N.Y.

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