Re: Learning Original Surname #ukraine
The "my name was changed at Ellis Island" story is almost always a myth.
There were frequently mistakes and mispellings, but the name was never
changed since they copied the name directly >from the ship manifest.
There are several ways to discover a "real" name.
1. Look at the ship manifest. If they definitely came through Ellis
Island, then the manifest an be read online. The easiest way to search it
is with Steve Morse's wonderful tools at:
http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/EIDB/. Once you find the family, I
strongly suggest shelling out the money to order a large paper copy from
Ellis Island. The large print makes names blurry details come out really
well; it's definitely worth it.
2. Look at the naturalization papers. These sometimes have original
names and can give you information on finding the ship manifest if they
did not immigrate through Ellis Island.
3. If they came through Canada, look at the Canadian Board Crossing
lists. Those can be found at the National Archives (of America).
4. Look at the Hamburg database. A lot of Immigrants came through there;
I've had success particularly with ancestors who passed through England on
their way to america:
5. Look at voter registration records in the county where the ancestor
settled. If the person changed their name as a part of obtaining
citizenship, then it will be recorded in the citizenship papers. However,
some immigrants had their names legally changed AFTER becomming citizens.
Voter records will have the name change (and better yet, information on
where the name change was recorded) on the voter registration card.
6. Trace your ancestor through the U.S. Census records. The originally
name was usually (but not always) something similar to the Americanized
version. If you have a large immigrant family, you can frequently use the
children, parents first names, and place of origin to find the original
name in the census once they "disappear" with the Americanized name. If
you're searching the census with ancestory.com, please keep in mind that
their indexing has large holes in it. You may want to check the soundex
at NARA (the US National Archives).
7. Trace your ancestor through city directories. This is definitely an
overlooked resource. Sometimes the directory will list spouses and
working children as well as the ancestor. This can be used to trace name
changes, particularly if the Americanized version of the name is similar
to the original name. You can also match the directory occupation to the
one(s) listed in the census, giving you a year-by-year picture of the
On Mon, 6 Sep 2004 CheriUnger@... wrote:
It was "Americanized" to BELOFF when they hit Ellis Island and as ofnow,
they have no relationship to other Beloff's.