Albany advice needed #usa

Herbert Lazerow

          I am looking to push the whereabouts of the Morris Brown family of Albany earlier than 1900.  Here is what I have gleaned, mostly from census returns or their Albany tombstones at Beth El Jacob:
          Morris (Moshe) Brown b. around 1840 immigrated 1861-1865 naturalized 1875 d. 1920 m. 1865-66 or around 1880 Rose (Raizel) b. 1840-1850 immigrated 1864 d. 1918. Rose had 9 children, all alive in 1910. I have been able to identify Bessie (1869) m. Kellert and Browns Herman (1882), Alfred (1883-84), Jacob (1886), Harry (1888), Joseph (1891) and possibly Mrs. Fannie Brody (though I cannot find her in any census). I have exact birth dates for most of these children. All the boys were born in Albany.
          I cannot find online any reference to any of them before the 1900 census.  They do not appear as Brown or Braun in the 1892 NY census. Their great-grandson questions whether their name in Russia was Brown. I have not found any Albany City Directories before 1900 online, nor an index to Albany births. A quick search for Morris Brown at 1890-1900 for Albany County produced no results.
          What is the best way to trace this family before 1900 to discover whether the original name was Brown and, if not, what it might have been?
Herbert Lazerow
Professor of Law, University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park, San Diego CA 92110 U.S.A.
(619)260-4597 office, (858)453-2388 cell, lazer@...
Author: Mastering Art Law (2d ed. Carolina Academic Press 2020)

Herbert Lazerow
Professor of Law, University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park, San Diego CA 92110
Author: Mastering Art Law (Carolina Academic Press, 2d ed. 2020)

Nancy Seibert


New York State vital records are not online.  Information regarding requests for City of Albany birth records can be found here:

If you are sure that Morris Brown emigrated from "Russia", it would be most helpful to narrow that down to a more specific geographic area and town location within greater Russia, so that you could eventually find other families from that town to whom the Browns may have been related.

The cemetery where Morris was buried in Albany could also provide a clue to his geographic origins, as would membership at any synagogue or other Jewish organizations in Albany. 

However, most of the Jewish immigrants to Albany came from Germany or Western European countries during the time period when Morris immigrated. See online sources  for histories of the Albany Jewish community and congregations. 

Whether your Browns came from somewhere in Russia or Western Europe, it's unlikely that their surname would have been spelled "Brown" unless they had lived in an English-speaking country for a time. The original name could have been similar to Brown or even a totally different name. 

If you can find living Brown family descendents and communicate with them, you may find clues to the past. There *are* people who knew relatives born as long ago as the 1880's. I have found success in expanding my ancestral surname list through the discovery of a family branch and contact to previously unknown cousins. They say they "have no clue", but there is usually something in their family memory that is helpful, even if not documented. And it turns out that the previously unknown branch didn't settle very far from my family upon arriving in the USA. 

Nancy Seibert 
Rhode Island 

The Becker's Email

Ancestry has Albany city directories back to 1861.  On the 1900 census the family is living at 66 Arch St.  In the city directories they are at  68 Arch  back to 1893.  Morris is listed as a pedlar when an occupation is given. Back as far as 1885  I could find a Morris Brown, pedlar living at various addresses.  I should note that he is listed as Maurice for a couple of years.

Ancestry has the family  on the 1892 Albany census  living in Ward 15, election district 3.  Morris 63, a pedlar, Rose (can't read age), Ezzic (male) 19, Fanny 14, Hyme 9, Abe 7, Jake 5, Jake 3, Joseph 1.  It appears that Morris and Rose may be from Prussia, rather than Russia.  Take a close  look at the handwriting.

Ancestry is available free at many libraries.

Have you obtained death certificates for Morris and Rose to see if there is any detail on their place of birth?

Johanna Becker
Newport, RI


The Albany Public Library has city directories from 1813 to the present; unfortunately, they are not available online.

Apparently, the U.S. City Directories collection on the MyHeritage website includes numerous Albany city directories from before 1900.  If you know someone with a MyHeritage account, perhaps they can run a search for you.  I'm not sure this will help you find the Browns' original surname, however.  


Ellen Morosoff Pemrick 
Saratoga County, NY


Sherri Bobish


Some Albany, NY city directories are easily and freely searchable here:
Years range from 1844 through 1925.

I sent this site to Herbert yesterday.


Sherri Bobish