Why would my Grandfather travel under his older brother's name? #names

loren greenberg

My Grandfather immigrated alone from Lithuania to NYC in 1912. He was approximately 14 years old.
He traveled under his older brother's name. His older brother was already in the US.

1) Why would he use his brother's name?
2) What documents, if any, did he have to show when purchasing his ship ticket and traveling?

Thank you for your help.

Loren Greenberg

Marilyn Feingold

My grandfather used his brother's passport to come to America. He then sent it back to his brother so his brother could  use it to come to America. 
He left because his brother was in the military and was not making enough money to live. My grandfather's parents felt it was better for my grandfather to  immigrate to American rather than join the military for 25 years.
CAMENCA-Schlaffer,Tessler, Malamud, Luber,Schleifer, Schaffer
TULCHIN-Milgrom, Milgram, Lerner
OBIDIVKA/TROSTONETS- Milgrom, Kolker, Spivak

Matt Friedman

There are many reasons... in one instance, a person was ill and could not travel so he gave the ticket to his brother. 
Matt Friedman

Cheryl Lynn Blum

My grandfather also traveled under his older brother's name, but his older bother stayed behind, living under his own name in Vilna. (When he came over 20 years later, he had to use his middle name because his name was already taken.) 

Lisa Bertman Hoffman

My great uncle came to the US using his dead brother-in-law's name.  The BIL had already emigrated to the US and been living there when he died in an accident.  He was  escaping the Czar's army according to family lore.


One possibility is his age at the time of transit.  My grandfather came to America with an uncle, but was separated from him at Ellis Island and lied about his age in order to be allowed to enter the country.  
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC


Found that a brother of my great grandmother did that to travel to US, borrowing his older brother identity.
Reason was, the traveler was too young and switching identities allowed him to live is life freely.
The older brother stayed in France and lived under his younger brother identity until he passed away many years after.

Steven Usdansky

My 24-year old grandmother came to the US at age from what was then Russia in 1914 using the passport of her 19-year old sister. Her ship sailed from Rotterdam on the day Russia entered WWI. It was an age thing, but I never understood why a 24-year old might not be admitted to the US but a 19-year old would, especially since there were other family members in the US already. When my grandmother's sister eventually came to the US with her four children in 1933, it was under her married name and with a Polish passport.

Mike Grossman

I have a similar question about my grandmother. According to her naturalization papers, Peppi/Bessie (nee BRODER) BERKOWITZ (her husband's name, married in Romania) traveled to the US under the name of Peppi GROSSMAN (no relation to my father's Grossman, I assume). When I found her on the ship's manifest, she was traveling with her 1-yo daughter Paulina/Pearl, who I had been looking for until then, but never could find under BERKOWITZ. Peppi's destination was to her husband "Abr Grossman" in Philadelphia, where her other children were born. After she arrived, I think they always used BERKOWITZ?
Thanks, MikeG


One might think one could resolve these questions if one could only ask the grandparent, but no.  I was already researching in the 70s and had my grandmother’s 1913 ship manifest while she was still alive. Her Jewish name was Sosha Riva. But on the ship manifest she was listed as Reise. I asked her why and she was embarrassed and said she had thought it would be a nicer name for America. Now much later I’ve realized that it was probably her older sister Rose’s Jewish name. Rose had already come to the US by the time my grandmother came. Too late to get to the bottom of this now. 

Susan Slusky

Sally Bruckheimer <sallybruc@...>

It could have been that the brother  or sister bought a ticket, then decided not to go then. But why waste the money for the ticket? I had a cousin, who came to the US bought by the fiance in NYC for his girl friend. But the girl died before the ship sailed.

Same situation, so the family of the girl sold the ticket to the family of my cousin, who was about the right age. My cousin came to the US and kept the ticket stub and all the papers. Her family, and now I, know all the details.

So anybody could use the ticket if it was the right sex and rough age.  Why waste money?

PS, My mother used to take me places when I was in my early 20s and in school, claiming I was 12. I passed. I got carded until I was 35, and the drinking age was 18. Last time, the waiter thought I gave him my mother's ID, but she was dead and hadn't renewed her driver's license.

Sally Bruckheimer
Princeton, NJ

Eva Lawrence

Emigration passes cost money. If you'd paid for a pass for one family
member, they might well send the pass back to be used again.

Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, UK.

Mashiach L. Bjorklund

There are a number of reasons why a person would travel under an older siblings name, here's a few:
1. Military conscription - the eldest son could sometimes be exempted for economic reasons from conscription. This would allow them to travel (or buy a ship's ticket to travel) where as a younger sibling who was facing or soon to face conscription would not be allowed to travel.
2. The ship's ticket was purchased under another name - once a ticket was purchased it could not be transferred to another person. But that did not prevent another person from assuming the ticket holders identity and using their ticket.
3. Age restrictions - This varied widely, but if a person was too young to travel unaccompanied they might have used an older siblings identity to purchase a ticket. Especially if there was no one at their destination to receive them upon their arrival. In 1912, a person 14 years or younger would have been considered a minor and could not travel without a designated guardian to accompany them. If the family had the economic means, they could hire a guardian (like a nanny), but if they lacked financial resources the minor would not be allowed to travel, or even purchase a ticket to travel. Keep in mind laws were not the only restriction. Steamship companies had their own rules as they were financially responsible for returning an immigrant if they were rejected at their port of entry.

Documents? That depends upon their country of origin, countries they traveled through, and ports enroute, etc. In very general terms, there was the ticket (which was also their receipt for purchase), that stayed with the person. There was something often referred to as a docket. That came from the steamship's ticket office and was used to add the person to the ship's manifest. This was not a legal requirement but used internally by the steamship line for passenger management. Most of those were disposed of after the ship sailed. Next up was the passenger manifest, created for the ship and matched to the passengers boarding, those were collected at the port of entry upon arrival. Next is the passenger arrival records, available through the National Archives and online via Ancestry and other genealogical database companies.

Keep in mind this is the simplest version of what's available. There are literately hundreds of books are written on this subject. Also go to familysearch.org. They have some good tutorials on the subject. There are even some good YouTube videos out there as well.