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Community Forums › They Came in Boats › Where do I begin? › Your help - please!

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Your help - please!
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Carole
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Location: Valtellina - Near Lake Como

PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 7:49 am    Post subject: Your help - please! Reply with quote

I have a question that someone here may be able to help me with, so here goes:

Scenario:
Immigrant arrives in America.

Ship's Manifest lists him (correctly) as Vittorio Alberto Rossi.

Ellis Island clerk cannot speak Italian (Vittorio can't speak English) so to make things easy, the clerk records this immigrant as Victor Albert Rossi.

So, the immigrant, in effect, didn't choose his 'Americanised' name - he was given it by someone that he would doubtless have seen as a 'person of authority' in his new country.

Now - here's my question...
Would that record, written by the Ellis Island clerk, have been the central Register where the immigrant would be registered and which would be consulted by other authorities as time went by?

OR

Would he have been given a 'chit' of some kind to present when he finally arrived at his destination as declared in the ships manifest? Then be registered at his new address with the new names he had been GIVEN?

Any advice you can give on the procedures used would be a great help.

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nuccia
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 10:35 am    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

Carole, this happened all the time with immigrants arriving in the USA. Some chose to keep their American names and others didn't. Some used their Americanized name for day to day activities but when they traveled or on official documents they used their real name since I believe at one time there were no real official court proceedings to change one's name. They just "did" it.

So we have:

Name: Albert Victor Rossi
City: Seattle
County: King
State: Washington
Birth Date: 5 Dec 1882
Race: White
Roll: 1991889
DraftBoard: 3

Where did he originally come from and where did he go? Is that him above? Rossi is a tough name because there are so many of them. There is one that married in Nevada in 1980 but I don't think thats the Vittorio Alberto you are looking for.

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Carole
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Location: Valtellina - Near Lake Como

PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 4:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

Oh dear, I'm sorry. The Vittorio Alberto Rossi (Victor Alber Red) was a ficticious immigrant. I just chose it to build the scenario.

I was going to use the name Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi (James Lucky Francis Green), but thought better of it hide

My question really was regarding 'choosing' or 'being given' the Americanised version of a name and - more importantly - if those original records/registers from Ellis Island still exist and can be accessed!

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Carole
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 5:45 am    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

Is there no one who knows, or knows where I could/should look for information on this puzzle?

I was asking the question because someone on a non genealogy site really needs to find out if there is any way of knowing whether such records exist or can be accessed. She is not doing family research as such, and so had no idea that such records just 'might' exist. I said I would try and help...

In a nutshell - she has been trying for citizenship for 5 years - all her papers were OK'd by the consulate 3.5 years ago and she was told to 'wait' for news. Nothing happened so she has gone back to them - the original official is no longer there and the new one got her file out (still untouched....) went through it ALL again and said the discrepancy on ggrandfathers names would NOT be acceptable to her! Therefore she had to prove that he was who she says he was. Both his Italian birth certificate and his surname are correct to the last letter, but his first two names, used in America, are exact americanised versions of his Italian names as shown on his birth certificate.

So there it is - and hence my question.

Can ANYONE help - please?



Quote::
I have a question that someone here may be able to help me with, so here goes:

Scenario:
Immigrant arrives in America.

Ship's Manifest lists him (correctly) as Vittorio Alberto Rossi.

Ellis Island clerk cannot speak Italian (Vittorio can't speak English) so to make things easy, the clerk records this immigrant as Victor Albert Rossi.

So, the immigrant, in effect, didn't choose his 'Americanised' name - he was given it by someone that he would doubtless have seen as a 'person of authority' in his new country.

Now - here's my question...
Would that record, written by the Ellis Island clerk, have been the central Register where the immigrant would be registered and which would be consulted by other authorities as time went by?

OR

Would he have been given a 'chit' of some kind to present when he finally arrived at his destination as declared in the ships manifest? Then be registered at his new address with the new names he had been GIVEN?

Any advice you can give on the procedures used would be a great help.
giornale

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joannsalvo
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Joined: Aug 23, 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

Hi,
I don't think there is any set answer.
In my family research I found that surnames were changed at different times or maybe Italian surnames were not changed at all.
My great grandfather came over in 1896 but didn't legally change his name until 1943.
Both of my grandfather's didn't change their surnames at all.
Other relatives changed it as soon as they arrived in Philadelphia but the manifest stated their actual Italian surname.
Some Italians replaced the last letter of their surname, "E" with an "O".
Maybe you can translate the last name to English, maybe not.
This person will have to try to trace their family thru out their lives to see if and when they changed their surname.
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Biff83
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Joined: Jul 10, 2007
Posts: 1263
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

Carole,

I'm don't believe the government kept a separate registry of immigrants but in most instances the ship manifests were consulted for naturalization purposes as shown by the naturalization notations on many of them.

In my case, my paternal grandfather's name is correct on his 1906 manifest--Giuseppe Epifano and his WWI Draft card lists him as Joe Epifano but his WWII Draft card shows him as Joseph Bifano.

From a letter he wrote to his sister in Italy in 1955, I was able to determine when his name was changed from Epifano to Bifano. Around 1910 when he began working for the D&H Railroad, the clerk listed him on the company books as Joseph Bifano. Evidently his accent and his version of the Calabrian dialect which clips "E's" and which pronounces "P's" almost like "B's" made his last name sound like Bifano. All was well until he put in for his railroad retirement papers and the Railroad Board requested a copy of his birth certificate. The letter he wrote to his sister was a request for her to get an authorized letter from the vital records office and/or the local church verifying that Giuseppe Epifano and Joseph Bifano were in fact the same person.

Within the Epifano family who emigrated to the US, other variations besides Bifano include Befano, Befanio, and Bifanio. Of all the five brothers from my grandfathers' family who emigrated, only his oldest brother Antionio's descendant's carry the Epifano name. And that was only after they had it legally changed in the states from Bifano back to the original Epifano.

Baci,
Biff

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tjbrn
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Joined: Jan 24, 2008
Posts: 487
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:40 am    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

Carole:
I have to agree with the others who have posted regarding this. My research has revealed that of my 7 aunts and uncles 5 of them had different surnames recorded on their birth and baptismal records, and these were variations on the original Italian surname. I find that the correct family surname is used on the 1930 census although the given names are "Americanized". The family never officially changed the surname, at least I have not found any evidence which substantiates such a change; however, I have found a letter dated in 1936 in which an Italian sounding surname was being used and it is the official surname of my uncle, my grandparents' youngest child who was born in 1939. Along the way there are so many variations and spellings that one needs a scorecard to keep one's bearings. In my case, I've been unable to find a one-size-fits-all answer.

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MariLouise
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Joined: Jul 13, 2009
Posts: 18
Location: Ohio

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

I was scrolling through posts and thought I'd give this one a go--

Ellis Island has a great data base easily accessed online--all info can be purchased as well. There are ship's manifests and official documents of entry. Also, naturalization papers should be checked--I was worried because my grandfather entered the country as "De Sole" but used "Sole" in America. The consulate would NOT accept census records (Detroit) and needed a legal document showing the change. On his naturalization papers (free from the county courthouse where he took his oath--check on where the man lived when naturalized--odds are that he also went through his local county courthouse) my grandfather's entry name was indeed "De Sole" and the name he chose to use in the states was "Sole". For me, problem solved. Unfortunately I now have to amend my father's birth certificate--they spelled his name incorrectly and the consulate won't accept this either--and it's going to cost me $1200!! Mamma mia! Ah well, in the end it's all priceless, isn't it?
MariLouise

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MariLouise

Researching De Sole and Giacinto in Calabria, Supo in Campania, and Iorio in Caserta.

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nuccia
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Posts: 4374
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

Hi Everyone,

Yes MariLouise.. You are at the mercy of the clerk because if there are any discrepancies in names, or even birth date, year, etc, they have the right to refuse citizenship. The information provided for both Italian and American (British, Canadian, etc) must all be identical. One letter difference in a name can be the difference between being allowed to get citizenship or not. And unfortunately, as you see, an amendment to any document can run you quite a bit of money as well as time.

Sorry Carole for misunderstanding the original post. We did have a post similar to this a few months ago too so its would be worth reading in case there are some other questions you might have, MariLouise.

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Last edited by nuccia on Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
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MariLouise
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

Thanks Nuccia--I'm sure I'm gonna have LOTS of questions Smile
MariLouise

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MariLouise

Researching De Sole and Giacinto in Calabria, Supo in Campania, and Iorio in Caserta.

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MariLouise
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

Thanks Nuccia--I'm sure I'm gonna have LOTS of questions Smile
MariLouise

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MariLouise

Researching De Sole and Giacinto in Calabria, Supo in Campania, and Iorio in Caserta.

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nuccia
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

Ask away..thats what we're here for. Smile

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MariLouise
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 1:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Your help - please! Reply with quote

Grazie. There's a lotta love on this site!

MariLouise

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