Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names


Eva Lawrence
 

This idea of a perfect bureaucracy is just not possible. No doubt it was in the authorities' interests to present a picture of infallibility, in order to scare people into compliance, but but you only have to think of a ship full of excitable and exhausted immigrants, some suffering from cholera, perhaps, many of them filthy from the long voyage in a crowded steamship belching smoke and reliant only on sea-water for washing,  to realise that the situation at Ellis Island can't have been as orderly as some of you imagine it, and that the well-trained clerks or the people they were interrogating, may sometimes have suffered from an understandable impatience when the clerks couldn't read the captain's bad hand-writing on the manifest or didn't understand a particularly thick local dialect.  The clerks wanted to get home for their supper, the passengers just wanted to reach dry land, so shoulders were shrugged and a name change sanctioned.. 
I'm not saying that name-changes were the rule, or aren't sometimes just a glib excuse for lack of research, but no-one can be positive that they couldn't have occurred, whether willingly or unwillingly.. 
--
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.

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