Buying false papers

JoAnne Goldberg
 

I'm interested in Sarah's story about buying false papers, as my family has a similar origin story vis a vis our Goldberg surname, and I've never been clear about how it worked.  Whose papers were sold, and what happened to those people -- without their own papers? Did they have to buy papers from another person, or could most people get by day-to-day without papers? What were papers used for anyway? My understanding was that you did not need papers to immigrate to the United States in the 1800s.

Seems like these questions should have obvious answers but it's all kind of murky.

JoAnne Goldberg
Menlo Park, California USA

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