One of the helpful databases on Ancestry.com is the U.S. Consular
Registration Certificates, 1907-1918. This is where American citizens
abroad registered at the consular or legation office where they were either
visiting, studying or living. Details such as the name of the registrant;
consulate where registered; date and place of birth; general travel data;
names, places of birth; and residences of spouse and children; and
registrant's current place of residence; were amongst those on the
Registration Certificates according to Ancestry.com.
Quite a number of those registered, many of whom were women, who
had returned to Europe to visit their families, expressed a desire to
return home to America as soon as possible as they were caught in the
turmoil of a world at war. Many stated that they had lost their passports,
run out of money and their relatives had none either, and other indigent
Several examples of registrations taken at the Riga American Consulate are
as follows: Mrs. Pauline Rabinowitz, born August 22, 1891, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, who left America on March 10, 1914 and arrived in Riga on
March 29, 1914. Pauline had no children and was visiting relatives.
She resided at Schwimstrasse 24, Riga, Latvia, care of Mrs. Bettie Kohen.
Contacts in case of emergency were her husband Harry Rabinowitz or Mrs.
Becky Harrison, 862 Jennings Street, New York, NY. Her husband Harry was
born in Kelme, and was temporarily residing in Johannesburg, South Africa,
because of business. There was also a statement by Pauline that she was
going to join her husband in South Africa or return home as soon as
possible after visiting her relatives. The only pertinent fact missing
was her maiden name.
Another registration in Riga was: Mrs. Adele Clarson, born June 23, 1886,
in Talsen, Latvia, who left her residence at 260 Sydney Street,
Cambridge, Massachusetts, on June 25, 1914, and arrived in Latvia on
July 10, 1914, with the intent of visiting her parents. Her address where
she was staying was Grossestrasse, Sassmaken, pr. Talsen, Kurland, Russia.
She was married to Albert Clarson, who had been born in Riga and she was
traveling with her young children: Elvira Clarson, born April 4, 1909,
Somerville, MA; Beatrice Clarson, born June 24, 1910, South Boston, MA;
and Adelia Clarson, born July 12, 1912, South Boston, MA. Imagine traveling
with three children all under five years of age!
Yet another Riga registration was: Mrs. Albert Sulzberger (maiden name
Mamie Caro), who was born March 27, 1889, in Riga, Latvia, and who was
visiting her relatives. Traveling with her was her daughter Lottie
Sulzberger, who was born January 31, 1909, in Philipsburg, NJ. She was
residing at Kleine Munzstrasse 16, Q4, care of Mrs. Press. Her husband Alb=
ert was born in Lodz, Poland. They lived in Paterson, NJ, at 18 Lane
Apart >from the registrations >from Europe there were also ones from
mother parts of the world such as those of Jewish students studying in
yeshivas in Mea Shearim such as Mordechai Rabinowitz, and those in
Melbourne, Australia, such as Isard Zeltner, studying oil skin and
waterproof manufacturing, and other such pursuits. There was also those
individuals who left America to find work such as Jack Zemel who went
to Vancouver, Canada, to work as a signwriter. And others, who went on
business such as Joseph Zimmelman, who was born in Poland and went to
Buenos Aires to sell diamonds for Weinberg Brothers in NYC. His wife and
six children also lived in Argentina.
If you wish to delve further into documents of this period, there are also
U.S. Consular Registration Applications, 1916-1925, for those who wished
to extend their stays abroad. These applications are just as interesting
as the Registration Certificates. One, in particular, was for a Charles R.
Cantor, the son of Abraham Cantor, born Kurland, December 1, 1876, who was
a major hotel, saloon and cabaret owner in the Panama Canal Zone. He left
America in 1913 and was married to Celia Frank. The documents in his file
provided not only a fascinating business history, but one of his charitable
endeavors as well. As the consul wrote in one document, Charles R. Cantor
"was known by every soldier and sailor on the Isthmus and there is not one
that would not do almost anything for him."