One of the helpful databases on Ancestry.com is the U.S. Consular Registration
Certificates, 1907-1918. This is where American citizens abroad registered at the
consular or legation office where they were either visiting, studying or living.
Details such as the name of the registrant; consulate where registered; date and
place of birth; general travel data; names, places of birth; and residences of
spouse and children; and registrant's current place of residence; were amongst
those on the Registration Certificates according to Ancestry.com.
Quite a number of those registered, many of whom were women, who had returned to
Europe to visit their families, expressed a desire to return home to America as
soon as possible as they were caught in the turmoil of a world at war. Many stated
that they had lost their passports, run out of money and their relatives had none
either, and other indigent circumstances.
Several examples of registrations taken at the Riga American Consulate are as
Mrs. Pauline Rabinowitz, born August 22, 1891, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who left
America on March 10, 1914 and arrived in Riga on March 29, 1914. Pauline had no
children and was visiting relatives. She resided at Schwimstrasse 24, Riga,
Latvia, care of Mrs. Bettie Kohen. Contacts in case of emergency were her husband
Harry Rabinowitz or Mrs. Becky Harrison, 862 Jennings Street, New York, NY.
Her husband Harry was born in Kelme, and was temporarily residing in Johannesburg,
South Africa, because of business. There was also a statement by Pauline that she
was going to join her husband in South Africa or return home as soon as possible
after visiting her relatives. The only pertinent fact missing was her maiden name.
Another registration in Riga was:
Mrs. Adele Clarson, born June 23, 1886, in Talsen, Latvia, who left her residence
at 260 Sydney Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, on June 25, 1914, and arrived in
Latvia on July 10, 1914, with the intent of visiting her parents. Her address
where she was staying was Grossestrasse, Sassmaken, pr. Talsen, Kurland, Russia.
She was married to Albert Clarson, who had been born in Riga and she was traveling
with her young children: Elvira Clarson, born April 4, 1909, Somerville, MA;
Beatrice Clarson, born June 24, 1910, South Boston, MA; and Adelia Clarson, born
July 12, 1912, South Boston, MA. Imagine traveling with three children all under
five years of age!
Yet another Riga registration was:
Mrs. Albert Sulzberger (maiden name Mamie Caro), who was born March 27, 1889, in
Riga, Latvia, and who was visiting her relatives. Traveling with her was her
daughter Lottie Sulzberger, who was born January 31, 1909, in Philipsburg, NJ. She
was residing at Kleine Munzstrasse 16, Q4, care of Mrs. Press. Her husband Albert
was born in Lodz, Poland. They lived in Paterson, NJ, at 18 Lane Street.
Apart >from the registrations >from Europe there were also ones >from other parts of
the world such as those of Jewish students studying in yeshivas in Mea Shearim such
as Mordechai Rabinowitz, and those in Melbourne, Australia, such as Isard Zeltner,
studying oil skin and waterproof manufacturing, and other such pursuits.
There was also those individuals who left America to find work such as Jack Zemel
who went to Vancouver, Canada, to work as a signwriter. And others, who went on
business such as Joseph Zimmelman, who was born in Poland and went to Buenos Aires
to sell diamonds for Weinberg Brothers in NYC. His wife and six children also
lived in Argentina.
If you wish to delve further into documents of this period, there are also U.S.
Consular Registration Applications, 1916-1925, for those who wished to extend
their stays abroad. These applications are just as interesting as the
Registration Certificates. One, in particular, was for a Charles R. Cantor, the
son of Abraham Cantor, born Kurland, December 1, 1876, who was a major hotel,
saloon and cabaret owner in the Panama Canal Zone. He left America in 1913 and
was married to Celia Frank.
The documents in his file provided not only a fascinating business history, but
one of his charitable endeavors as well. As the consul wrote in one document,
Charles R. Cantor "was known by every soldier and sailor on the Isthmus and there
is not one that would not do almost anything for him."