There has been an ongoing posting of messages regarding name changes.
Recently we had a thread in JewishGen concerning reasons behind surname
changes and the use of the maternal surname. This is the summary I
submitted after so many interesting inputs posted in this relation,
which may add to the reasons already shared in the SIG:
Thank you to all who helped me gain insight on the many reasons behind
surname changes in immigrants and use of maternal name. I wish to thank
all who took their time to answer. It was my first posting in JewishGen
and I felt the added strength of individual and collective knowledge
Here is a summary of many varied facts and theories mentioned by Genners
for different dates, areas, and circumstances - different >from the
unfairly blamed clerk in Ellis Island!
They could help to look into other cases and pinpoint the reason for the
change in names:
+ Different policies in terms of recording Jewish marriages and
legislating use of surnames among Jews.
+ Jewish marriages not being recognized, and children being given
documents with their mothers maiden name
+ Religious Marriage considered sufficient. Never bothering to
register a civil marriage with the authorities, with the option
for children of taking either surname
+ Having religious marriages, in general not registering until
after the first child was born, and scoffing at the notations
of illegitimacy in the eyes of the Polish government as of no
consequence at all.
+ Not being able to afford the fee for a civil marriage - children
born of the religious marriage had to take the surname of the mother
+ Only one marriage permit issued per Jew family descendance under
Austro-Hungarian law, and only if a significant fee was paid. So
marriage of more than one children would not be recorded by the
civil authorities and children of such couples would be listed
in the Austro-Hungarian metrical records as illegitimate.
+ Times when governments in Poland and in Hungary did not allow Jews
to marry more than once (even if his spouse was deceased). In that
case, they were married only by Jewish ceremony and the children
of this second (etc.) marriage bore the family name of the mother.
+ Civil marriages being conducted in front of a cross. Jews who
refused to marry in front of a cross were technically illegitimate
+ Marriages performed elsewhere and not formally registered in cities
where children were born
+ Many people in the United States, Irish in particular, had a
particular dislike for Russians, or what they perceived as Russian
sounding names... Consequently, many Russian or East-European Jews
Germanized their names.
+ Thinking that having a close maternal relative with the same surname
in the States would make it easier to be admitted if using the
+ Desire to avoid the authorities for some reason, probably connected
with military service - either to avoid conscription or to evade
punishment after deserting
+ In Russia outside the Kingdom of Poland, Jewish men except the first
born were draftable and sometimes not permitted to marry - so baby
boys were never registered or sometimes registered as the child of
another couple with no boys.
+ Inherited surnames were still relatively new and not especially
desired by Jews since they were forced on them by the government
in an effort to keep track of who was who (and draftable, etc.)
+ A Jew emmigrating to the US may give no second thought to getting
rid of a name forced on him by the Czar.
+ Inconsistent use amongst European Jews of what we consider to be
"surnames" (family names uniformly reflecting the paternal line)
until the 19th century as the earliest.
+ Marriages governed by religious law until fairly recently (typically
the 19th century) with individual names recorded in official documents
being a totally different question.
+ In 20th century not recognition of the state or synagogue as a power
proper for marriage authorization, not for reasons related to religion,
but for political ones
+ Need to be sponsored by a family member in order to be accepted as an
immigrant, and pretending to be related to the sponsor using papers
in the new name.
+ Jews who needed a surname often used the wife's name if they were (as
often occured) living with the wife's family.
+ Men marrying into a well known Rabbinical family taking the
father-in-law's family name
+ Men going into their father-in-law's profession, and the family's name
changing according to that profession
+ Anglicization, easier spelling or pronounciation, and even choosing a
name more in their liking, and ease in the States to "call yourself
anything you wanted"
+ Travelling under the mother's maiden name and resuming the father's
name on arrival
+ Travels under the mother's maiden name being thus noted by the
authorities on their certificate of arrival or naturalization papers.
Thank you very much for all these comments - hope they help and did
not skip any!
Buenos Aires, Argentina
GLIKSON, GLICKSON, GLUCKSOHN, GLUECKSOHN (Suwalki, Marijampole, Augustow,
ALPEROVICH, ALPEROWICZ (Kremenchug, Vilno)
POKROISKY, POKROJSKI, POKROY (Suwalki, Seirijai)
HOLLANDERSKY, HOLLENDERSKI, HOLLANDER (Suwalki, Seirijai, Lomza)
TARNOPOLSKY, TARNOPOL (Kremenchug, Kharkov)
FELCHINSKY (Kremenchug, Vilno), KARP (Grodno), GOLUMBIEWSKY, GOLOMB (?),