My favorite story on the subject relates to a relative of mine who married
the relative of a friend of mine - close to a century ago. The friend and I
had no idea previously that we were related. So we started searching for
more documents, and it became apparent that both of our relatives were lying
through their teeth to each about their ages. A wonderful way to begin a
Original Message From: Joseph Hirschfield [mailto:JOECYP@...]
It was fairly common to misstate one's age, especially for women and
especially after 1920. An unmarried women in her twenties was already
considered a spinster, an unpleasant appellation. Also some women were
older than their husbands. This was a no no in American culture.
Also with changes in the immigration law after 1920, an unmarried child over
21 could not be brought to America under his/her father's naturalization.
Frequently married men arrived in the US first, and brought over their wives
and children after establishing a nest egg. Sometimes there was a delay,
such as in my grandfather's case because of WWI and the Russian revolution,
so that by the time the family was available to come over, it was after 1920
and my grandfather was already a citizen. He could only bring over
unmarried children under 21. Therefore, like dominos, some of the
children's ages were reduced so that even the older ones could be designated
to be less than 21.