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Lists of passengers were compiled at the port of departure based on the name found in the ticket.The names given upon arrival in the United States had to match the name on the passenger list and on the ticket.
But you should be able to trace your family tree back to the point of immigration (usually between 18), and some American records may give you the names of the parents of those immigrants.His tree included all eight of his great-grandparents, some of his 2nd-great-grandparents and dozens of aunts and uncles and cousins.In addition, my father's brother and cousin had done ongoing research that I did not know about until long after I had started my work.But even if the name were recorded incorrectly at Ellis Island, it wouldn't matter, because you didn't have to use the name that was recorded at Ellis Island.In the days before social security cards, drivers' licenses, credit cards and all the other identification we rely on today, it was perfectly legal to change your name -- both first and last name -- any time you wanted as long as you didn't do it to avoid payment of your debts.We live in a society today where every aspect of our lives is so thoroughly documented that it is often hard for us to understand: our ancestors didn't always know their own date of birth let alone their parents'.
They didn't necessarily know their mother's maiden name.It's a lot easier to find documents confirming what they know and building on it than it is to start from scratch. "This used to be widely available for free, but concerns about identity theft have made this database less widely available and less useful.Talk to them repeatedly in the course of your research: you may find that some of what you discover triggers their memories. Most sources no longer include deaths after March 2014.And that's the bad news: your family member's name may have changed several times both before and after Ellis Island.My great-great-grandmother was listed on immigration records in 1883 as Babette Reich, but died in 1900 as Bertha Rich. My grandmother was identified as Lee Moldow on her American marriage certificate, but she shows up in early census records as Lena Moldofsky and in an Ellis Island record as Bluma Moldansky. Tracking down family information when the names may have changed repeatedly can be quite challenging.I'm rather proud of that, but I'm more proud of having identified more than 1,000 of his descendants in Hungary, the United States and South America!