The short and simple answer for Eastern European Jewish immigrants to the United States is that they already had several versions of their names when they were in Europe.
If they were Jewish, they had their religious Hebrew name that was used in the synagogue, their Yiddish name that was used among friends and their Russian name that was used on their birth and marriage certificates.
Most of those name would have seemed strange and unspellable to Americans. Since they came here intending to become Americans, they had to change their names so they could blend in, get jobs and meet people and escape prejudices. Continue reading
There is important information in the ship manifest.
- relative or friend the immigrant is going to. Sometimes their address
(if you recognize the destination person, you know you have found the correct record)
- birth place or sometimes last residence in Europe
- physical description — height, weight, hair color, eye color
- how much money did they declare
- which family members were with them
more in a revised post
This is a special case. You can search for people in the 1905 NY State Census at ancestry.com. Until recently, But, you probably would not find anyone because ancestry had only a few NY State counties available online. During 2014 ancestry updated their 1905 NYS census and now have most of the counties available. Read their db description since they state that the records for some counties were lost.
For the 1905 NYS Census, you can also go to SteveMorse and search by name. It is a different index and search engine that might yield different results.
This is the starting point in the public records for you to look for family information that was previously unknown to you. It is often the easiest place to search. Continue reading