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

Joel Weintraub
 

Alan Gordon wanted to know about a family story where his Kanserstein relative claims his real name was Thomaspol, but when asked what his name was at Ellis Island, he replied Kanserstein or I can’t understand”.  “Does this make any sense?”  Where is the documjentation?  Find the ship manifest.
 
Your story reminds me of the Sean Ferguson joke.  Where the immigrant tried to remember an American name if he was asked at Ellis Island (which makes no sense as it wouldn’t match the manifest name before the inspectors), and in Yiddish, said I forgot which came out as Sean Ferguson.  Kirsten Fermaglich in her book “A Rosenberg By Any Other Name: Jewish Name Changing in America” tracked down the origin of the Sean Ferguson joke.  Some of her results: This Ellis Island  joke did not emerge in the literature of Jewish Humor surnames until around 1970.  However, an early variation of it before 1969 involved a Jewish actor in Hollywood trying to pick an American name.
 
Fermaglich states: “Ellis Island name changing did not become an important image in published literature until around 1970”.  (page 148)
 
Joel Weintraub
Dana Point, CA



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Joel Weintraub
Dana Point, CA

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