Re: Immigrant Name Changes #ukraine


I had a neighbor here in Palo Alto who claimed that his grandfather
from Russia's surname was changed by an official at Ellis Island from
an unpronouncable five or six syllables ending in "ski" to "LEVINE."
Supposedly, his grandfather had tried to get the immigration official
to write it out, but only succeeded in angering the overworked
bureaucrat, who in a fit of frustration crossed out the long name,
and wrote LEVINE instead. When the immigrant was appalled and said
he was not a Levite, the official stamped the document and told him
not to hold up the line.
One wonders where all this crossing out and changing was done, considering there
WERE NO separate records kept at Ellis Island, the records there being the ships
manifests supplied by the steamship companies. Any crossing out that appears on
the manifests results >from someone intentionally or unintentionally missing the
boat. There does appear to have been some amplification done to the manifests,
however, in a different hand, and it is not clear where or when these additions
were made. Blank spaces are sometimes filled
(addresses of relatives especially, adding of brackets to show relationships to
parents and grandparents, etc.), but I challenge anyone to show any changes
whatsoever of primary information between the records kept at the ports of
embarkation and Ellis Island. This comparison is particularly easy to do with
ships that sailed >from Hamburg, where the records >from Hamburg are available for
a fee online. I have examined some of these in regard to my own researches and
even though they normally send a transcribed version, I have seen nothing worse
than the change of a single letter between Hamburg and New York. I repeat, if
major changes to names were done, they were done either after arriving in
America or before leaving the home country.

Steve Franklin

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