Discovery Your Family History

Jewish Genealogy Myths Exposed

If you are thinking that your family name was changed when your ancestors landed at Ellis Island, I regret to inform you that this is only a fabrication. This is possibly the biggest myth that has been told countless times to foreign family history researchers and Jewish Genealogists in particular. In this article, I will give you a list of the many myths surrounding your LDS family search and the actual truth behind the misconceptions.

  • Myth 1: Family names were changed when our ancestors landed at Ellis Island. As a matter of fact, there is no record of a family’s name being changed at Ellis Island, according to U.S. citizenship and immigration services senior historian Marion L. Smith. Ellis Island clerks simply checked off names on their lists against the manifests that were drafted before immigrants embarked aboard ships bound for the United States. If there were any name changes they were discovered later Not On Board, (NOB) listings on manifests discovered after immigrants have disembarked on U.S. soil.

 There are several reasons family members changed their last names: immigrants travelled on another family member’s papers, changed the family name after they landed in the U.S. for personal reasons, or adopted the name of other family members who had their names changed after becoming American citizens. Genealogists are still discovering the reasons why their family’s names were changed to this day.

  • Myth 2: All our documents were destroyed during the war. This is not actually true, because although many documents were destroyed during war time many documents that were required by the United States Federal government during that time were placed in several state and local repositories and are available to genealogists conducting an LDS family search today.

  • Myth 3: Our entire city was wiped out, to be honest with you the fact is that the given town still stands today. With the exception of the Jewish population you may have difficulty finding your native city because you may have the town’s name misspelled or the person who gave you the name of the city may have mispronounced it. To search for unfamiliar town names you should take a look at “Where we Once Walked,” by Avotaynu, which lists city names by using Yiddish geographical variants and their possible locations. If you have an idea of the name of your native city, but can’t spell it, check out Jewishgen’s Shtetlefinder to find town and city names by searching by its phonetic sound.

  • Myth 4: No one can remember anything, while conducting your LDS family search; you may need to dig deep into your family tree to find a senior member who can give you important information. Once you find an elder member of your family, be sure to interview them as soon as possible. When you plan to conduct an interview, be sure to take an audio recorder or a video camera so you can record as much information as possible before they pass away. Although many seniors may not remember what happened a few minutes ago, they often remember their childhoods as if it was yesterday. These memories include not only their own childhood memories, but things they were told by their own parents and grandparents. Find out if you have an aunt, uncle, grandparents, or even distant cousins who can remember most if not all of your family’s history.

  • Myth 5: The family stories are impossible to believe. The truth of the matter is that no family story is totally unbelievable. Be sure to write down everything you hear from your senior family members, no matter how silly or funny the stories may be, because at the centre of every story is a glimmer of truth. Even if you can’t find the truth in these stories, write them down so your descendants may discover the truth for themselves.

  • Myth 6: We don’t have a paper trail we can follow, even though there may not be a paper trail discovered as yet during your LDS family search You have the option to get genetic testing for each member of your family. DNA testing is helping genealogists and other family historians either prove or disprove possible facts and theories about their families written in the numerous family stories passed down through the generations.

 Looking For More Information

 There is a web site that specifically designed to help researchers who think they may have descended from Jewish ancestors. You can visit www.familytreedna.com for more information. This company has the largest database of all agencies in the field of genetic genealogy put together. Their database includes the largest Jewish DNA database in the world, which makes it easier for you to find DNA matches for your family history.

 What does this mean to genealogical researchers? Researchers have discovered that there are many recognized misconceptions, and there are facts that can be proven about their family’s history. There are many people who have dedicated their time to help researchers find poorly misspelled family names and names of foreign towns and cities around the world. Many volunteers spend countless hours translating records into many languages, and become experts in the field of genealogical research, to share their findings with other family historians worldwide.

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