JCR-UK SIG #UnitedKingdom Questions -Changed Our Name Message 6? #unitedkingdom

Lorri <lorrim@...>

Anita...Jeremy is correct. If I sound harsh, I don't mean to be,
after all, this is typed text, and no facial language is involved. I
am just trying to clarify the issue.

In regards to immigrant names being changed by Ellis Island staff or
at Ellis Island..that is highly unlikely, and only continues the
ongoing myth that it happened. It is just that, a myth. Government
officials had to adhere to rules and strict standards in order to
process and allow immigrants into the U.S. Name changing was not part
of the process.

At the port of departure, there were prepared by the shipping company
staff. Names were often spoken by immigrants who could not read and
write, and therefore interpreted through language spoken. Also, at
Ellis Island, the immigration officers checked the immigrant's name
against the ship manifests.

I have seen the myth as just that, a myth, according to my research on
other websites, including immigration and naturalization sites,
including a popular ship manifest site, and including this blurb from
a well-known web encyclopedia:

"An inaccurate myth persists that government officials on Ellis Island
compelled immigrants to take new names against their wishes. In fact,
no historical records bear this out. Federal immigration inspectors
were under strict bureaucratic supervision and were more interested in
preventing inadmissible aliens >from entering the country (which they
were held accountable for) rather than assisting them in trivial
personal matters such as altering their names. In addition, the
inspectors used the passenger lists given them by the steamship
companies to process each foreigner. These were the sole immigration
records for entering the country and were prepared not by the U.S.
Bureau of Immigration, but by the steamship companies such as the (I
left the names of the many major steamship lines of the time,
out)...and so forth."

The myth was often started by another generation of immigrants, as
told to them by an ancestor, and handed down through the years and
generations, with the story changing >from years and generation to
generation. By the time it gets to one ancestor, it has been told as
the name having been changed at Ellis Island, and not having been
changed by the immigrant, himself/herself. Often the immigrant did
not necessarily want the family members to know they changed the name,
so they stated it was changed at Ellis Island, instead of stating it
was changed after departing Ellis Island into "the land of milk and
honey". Many immigrants tried to "Anglicize" their name in order to
fit in and assimilate. Place and time often had to do with a name
change, and it was not uncommon for names to have been changed often
throughout the years and generations.

I hope this helps.

Lorraine Millings
Tennessee, U.S.

MILLINGS: England, Lithuania, Belarus, Russia, Poland
SAFFER: England Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Latvia, Germany, Austria
SOLOMONS: England, Austria, Poland, Germany

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