Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Genealogy : When Names Change Upon Arrival ( No Answer,   3 Comments )
Subject: Genealogy : When Names Change Upon Arrival
Category: Relationships and Society
Asked by: nyma-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 14 Jul 2006 20:16 PDT
Expires: 13 Aug 2006 20:16 PDT
Question ID: 746497
As I research family history on the website I am
wondering if the names listed on their search results are their
original names or the "new" names.  I am referring to the fact that
many names were altered upon arrival.  Thanks

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 14 Jul 2006 20:44 PDT

In case you haven't seen them, there are numerous "sounds like" tools
associated with the Ellis Island databases, so that one can search not
only on an exact spelling, but can access other names that are similar
in pronunciation.

There are so many variants of family names due to changes, difficulty
with accents and pronunciation, illiteracy, non-familiarity with our
alphabet, stubbornness, and so on, that it's very hard to say what the
actual procedures were, or why a particular family name may have been

Good luck (I'm still looking for BPO lifeguards!).


Clarification of Question by nyma-ga on 15 Jul 2006 06:09 PDT
thanks for the feedback!....i don;t think i asked my question very
well... so i will clarify...I know the name of the ancestors here in
the US.  The ship manifest would list the name as the crew wrote it
down.  Than it would have been changed at Ellis Island.  There is no
way to link them I suspect or really know if the name i see on ellis
island is the same guy?
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Genealogy : When Names Change Upon Arrival
From: probonopublico-ga on 14 Jul 2006 20:25 PDT
I understand that, in many cases, the new arrivals couldn't speak
English and probably they couldn't spell either (reminds me of Kemlo)

Therefore, the Immigration Officers used to make a best guess on their names.

This makes Genealogy even more difficult!

Subject: Re: Genealogy : When Names Change Upon Arrival
From: kemlo-ga on 15 Jul 2006 07:15 PDT
I remember hearing that some  Immigration Officers used to tell the imigrants
 their names were too foreign.  then would arbiterily assign them a
more English sounding surname.
Often bareing no relationship to the original?
Subject: Re: Genealogy : When Names Change Upon Arrival
From: myoarin-ga on 16 Jul 2006 09:55 PDT
HI Nyma,
There are spelling errors on the "passenger list", which seems to be a
transcription of the name on the manifest.  See the remarks to the
right, asking for corrections.  I found a couple, typical typos.

I also found a completely wrong link of one person's name to an
entirely different name on a manifest, probably for the wrong ship.  A
search on that name did work.

So, unfortunately, it seems that you are right:  the information on
the Ellis Island website is just from the manifests and does not
reflect a possible name change on an immigrant's documentation when
being allowed to enter the States.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy