Re: New Find Raises Questions about Family Name: #poland #names

Lee Jaffe


Thanks so much.  I think your thorough description of the different kinds of paperwork used to process incoming passengers should help put to rest the notion that their ancestors had their names changed by an official at Ellis Island. I'd accepted such statements on face value until I began to think logically about the immigration process and wondered by what mechanism such a change could be enforced.  Unless immigrants were issued identity papers they would need for all transactions -- getting a job, for instance -- with their new name, what would prevent someone from reverting to their old name as soon as they hit the streets?

I don't mean to hijack the original question about the Grossman family name, but I think it is worth clarifying that they could have called themselves whatever name they liked.  Why they chose Grossman may be lost in the mists of time, but it wasn't something forced on them.

According to the CJH librarians again, the persistence of the Ellis Island name change may be due to folks not wanting to admit they changed their own name: it was easier to blame some faceless official.  

Lee Jaffe

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