JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: What documents did Jewish immigrants need to enter the U.S. around 1900? #general

Paul Silverstone

I learned recently that my Paternal grandmother had a brother who died
while in the Russian Army, probably about 1887. His letters home
described the miserable time he had, and he never returned home.

On 12/21/2014 1:57 PM, E Irene Newhouse wrote:
James Feldman is correct that the Russian army was an antisemitic
environment. The government was definitely trying to alienate male
Jews >from their communities, in hopes they'd yield to the pressure &
convert. People definitely tried to avoid the draft by any means.

However, there weren't any legal means. I've had a researcher study
my MARGOLIS family of Vilna [city, not guberniya]. >from about 1880
to WWI, oldest sons were drafted. Only sons were drafted. All the
sons in a family were drafted. What's peculiar about my family is
that so few of them emigrated- they seem to have accepted the
inevitable. There must have been a significant underground industry
in ways to get out of the country illegally, though, and a subsequent
posting by Sandy Crystall suggests one consistent scenario - buying
someone else's ticket & traveling under that name, then keeping it
out of a sort of paranoia. [The more you read about tsarist Russia,
the more you realize a sort of paranoia was a survival trait there.]

Just as illegal immigrants in the US today can buy fake documents,
I'm sure you could buy fake emigration documents, if you had the money.

One of the men who married into my family in the mid-1800s in what's
now Wroclaw, Poland, was illegally ferried across the bordering river
into Wroclaw. His father paid for it, as soon as he heard another son
had been exiled to Siberia >from medical school on account of political
activity. This brother returned >from exile and became a sufficiently
noted physician to be mentioned on a recent web page.
Paul Silverstone
New York
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