Re: Surnames #austria-czech

Renee Steinig

On 3/8/07, Jordan Zakarin <> wrote:

we don't know where... my great great grandfather was from.
[His] surname was Green while in Europe; it wasn't Americanized
upon entering Ellis Island.

Was/Is Green a common last name for Jews in Galicia? I'm under
the impression that names like Gruen or Grun etc. are the
German/Yiddish versions, and are anglicized to Green.
First of all, regarding the very resilient Ellis Island name change
myth, please see the article by Marian Smith, historian for the INS
(U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, recently renamed the


Marian points out that passenger lists were created abroad and that
Ellis Island inspectors used these lists during the inspection
process. She also notes that all EI inspectors spoke several languages
and that they were assigned to process immigrants whose language they
spoke. In addition, inspectors were instructed not to change the name
or identifying information found for any immigrant unless requested by
the immigrant or given evidence that the original information was

As to the likelihood of the name GREEN in Europe: Possibly it was GRUN
with an umlaut on the U. Pronunciation is not too different than
GREEN. When they say a name was "the same in Europe," relatives
sometimes mean that it wasn't shortened, not that it was spelled

Some websites to go to, to see the occurrence of a Jewish surname in

1) JRI-Poland <>

(An exact spelling search shows not one GREEN, but many GRUENs,
GRINs, and especially GRUNs -- in the Galicia provinces of Krakow,
Lwow, Stanislawow, and Tarnopol and elsewhere.)

2) The Ellis Island website, via Steve Morse's One Step

(Searching for a name that starts with/is GREEN with ethnicity
Galicia brings up only two names. Neither manifest was viewable,
so we can't know if we agree with the indexer's reading.)

3) Avotaynu's Consolidated Jewish Surname Index

(GREEN appears in a number of databases. In some, such as the
Family Tree of the Jewish People, it is probably a surname in an
English-speaking country. But there are also occurrences in foreign
records, including those indexed in a number of JewishGen databases.)

Note the Advanced Search Option described on the CJSI page, which
also works on JRI and on JewishGen databases: Enclose characters of
the name in brackets to signify that those letters should not be
soundexed but must appear as is. For example, searching for [GR]EEN
would bring up names beginning with GR that sound like GREEN; using
brackets eliminates names like GOREN >from the results.

4) Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims Names

(On the Advanced Search page, an exact name search for GREEN brings
up a number of listings. These occurrences may just reflect how
English-speaking relatives spelled the name in their Testimony.
There are also many GRUNs, GRUENs, and GRINs >from Galician
provinces and elsewhere. Note that the "English" spellings in this
database are often transliterated >from Hebrew or Cyrillic characters.)

For more source information see the section on Jewish Names in the
JewishGen FAQ


and Joachim Mugdan's JewishGen InfoFile, "The Names of the Jews," at



Renee Stern Steinig
Dix Hills, New York, USA

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