What were their names and why were they changed?

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

What is in the ship manifests

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
  • occupation
  • age
  • 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