JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen RE: Russian relative born in Germany, on the way to America? #general


pweinthal
 

Dear Mark,

As you hunt for documentation, you will find many lapses, mispellings, mistakes,
and outright inventions on official forms especially in the days before
standardized record-keeping. Even the advent of computerized records doesn't
prevent a vowel >from being dropped out of a name, or 2 record entries getting
inter-mingled. Everytime someone writes or re-enters information, mistakes can
be introduced. When dealing with people who did not speak the same language as
the clerk, mistakes happen even more frequently. Expect imprecision.

It's helpful to read up on the who-what-why and intent behind a document's
creation and how this changed over time. Unsurprisingly, there are numerous
articles and reference books written for genealogists on this subject. That may
help you find out why someone may not be included in a family group. Evaluating
the extent of a source document's reliability is a critical skill for a
genealogist. A reference librarian can help. Elizabeth Shown Mills is one well
known author.

<<After WWI, and when the woman had children, she probably decided thought it
best, to tell a "white" lie, and say that she was born in America, rather than
Germany.>>

That assumption is a stretch at best.

Census listings are frequently imprecise or just wrong. Neighbors and children
would often be queried if the adults weren't home or didn't speak English. The
primary purpose of the enumeration is to determine how many congressional seats
should be allocated to a state. The remaining questions were not checked for
accuracy or thoroughness. Census record are sealed for 72 years. There's no
advantage to lie.

Don't forget, too, European national boundaries change. One year's Russia became
Poland or Germany the next. Answers to a census may reflect that.

sincerely,
Pat Weinthal
Massachusetts, USA

Mark London <mrl@psfc.mit.edu> wrote:

Hi - Does anybody have a story about a Russian relative who was born in
Germany, while the family was traveling to America? I was researching
a Latvian family who came to America in 1891. Records show that the
youngest daughter, was born about that year. She's listed in the 1900 &
1910 censuses, as being born in Germany, while her 2 year older sister,
is listed as being born in Russia. In the later censuses, the younger
sister is listed as being born in America.

The Hamburg to UK passenger list for the family, includes a 1 year old
child, who could be this daughter. However, in the Liverpool to US
passenger list, this younger daughter, is not listed. Could the child
have been born in Germany, and have been so young, that the US list
would not have included her?

After WWI, and when the woman had children, she probably decided thought
it best, to tell a "white" lie, and say that she was born in America,
rather than Germany.

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