Finding the Lists, Searching
the Lists, Getting the Most out of the Lists
One of the most exciting new genealogical sites to hit
the internet is the Ellis Island Foundation, found at
www.ellisislandrecords.org . At this site, you can search for your ancestors
who immigrated to New York City between 1892 and 1924. Use Stephen Morse's
search engine, now hosted by Avotaynu Inc., to search the Ellis Island records
using greater filtering tools based on race, ethnicity and other criteria.
You can even search names using just the first few letters of the name. Click
here to get to
Stephen P. Morse's
"Searching the Ellis Island Database in One Step" website.
Type in your ancestor’s last name. At first, don’t put in
a first name, to keep the search as broad as possible. If it’s a very popular
surname, then you can add the first initial of the first name.
Be careful! Not only are the names often anglicized,
they’re often written sloppily, thus making it difficult for the volunteer data
entry specialists to index the record properly. Keep in mind that most of these
data entry specialists were not familiar with Slavic phonetics. So what spelling
may seem obvious to someone familiar with Polish and/or Ukrainian, played no
role in the data entry process. Though Szczepanski is easy for a Polish speaker,
Scosapamki is not. But to the data entry specialist, both are just as evenly
incomprehensible. (Mind you, this is NOT an attack against all of the hard work
and dedication of these data entry specialists. Their work is a great success!)
In the case where the typed name in the index is very
bad, there’s little you can do to find the names. But here are some clues that
Make a list of all of the possible alternatives. Keep
track of which ones you’ve searched on so you won’t needlessly repeat your
If looking for a last name ending in –SKI, try –SKA (the
Likewise, if you’re searching for a woman’s surname ending in –SKA, try –SKI.
If the name ends in –WICZ, try –WYCZ, -WICH, -VICH, -VYCH
If the name ends in –IK, try –YK, -ICK, -YCK
Say the name properly in Polish/Ukrainian, now try
spelling these sounds in English.
If looking for Drabczak, try Drapchak
For Ukrainians, we have a much harder time since the
native alphabet is written in Cyrillic, which is different from the English and
Polish alphabets. You’ll have to write up a much longer list of Ukrainian names
for which to search. In addition to the obvious alternatives, you should
transpose your Ukrainian name into Polish spelling. Often, Ukrainian immigrants
spoke Polish as well. And they may have found themselves in front of a Polish
speaking clerk when giving their information on the ship.
Here’s a transliteration table of Ukrainian sounds into
English and Polish spellings:
||G or H
||z or ż or ź
||l OR ł
||n OR ń
||r OR rz
||s or ś
||u OR у
||ch OR H
Examples of Polish transliteration of Ukrainian names:
could be spelled Woloszyn
For Poles, consider the following Polish variation
then try "l" or "t"
If "у", then
try "o" or "u"
data entry specialists confused the "ł"
with a "t")
For the "sh"
sound, try the proper Polish "sz", or German "sch" or English "sh"
For the "ch"
sound, try the proper Polish "cz", or the French "tch" or the English "ch"
For the "ts"
sound, try the proper Polish "c", or the German "z" or the English "ts"
If the name
has a W, try the letters V or F
For a detailed analysis of the passenger lists,
You must remember that when your European born "Uncle
Willie and Aunt Pearl" came to this country, they were NOT know by the English
names Willie and Pearl. The vast majority of our immigrant ancestors came to
this country knowing only
the local dialect of Polish and/or Ukrainian. If Polish, their names MAY have
been Władysław and Paraskiewia or if Ukrainian, Volodymyr and Paraskovia. Enter
Polish/Ukrainian names, both in their proper form, then in their phonetic form,
then in any common diminutives (In Polish, Wład or Władek, in Ukrainian
Paraska or Paraskeva.). For more
information on names, visit my page on language.
Once you are looking at a particular immigrant’s record,
detail in to look at the original manifest. Sometimes this feature is not
available due to the poor condition of either the actual manifest or the
scanning of the manifest.
The forms used by the immigration officers changed over
the years. Look at each column very carefully. There’s a lot of great
information found in these records. For now, we are concentrating on locating
the ancestral village. Depending on the form being used, there can be several
columns with village information:
Where the immigrant came from.
The closest relative/friend left behind.
Once you get the place, check gazetteers to find out more
about the place. There are several gazetteers which are invaluable to our
region’s research. Visit my page on gazetteers,
or visit each of the following pages:
Genealogical Gazetteer of
Galicia, by Brian J. Lenius. 1999 revised
edition with expanded data. A compilation of various gazetteers. Best English
vertretenen Königreiche und Länder.
(Gazetteer of the Crown Lands and Territories Represented in the Imperial
Council). An Austro-Hungarian gazetteer from 1907.
Słownik geograficzny Krуlestwa Polskiego I innych
(Geographic Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic Countries).
Volume Galizien (Galicia). A Polish language gazetteer focusing on all of the
lands once ruled by the Kingdom of Poland. Data based on information compiled
between 1880 and 1902.
Skorowidz miejscowości rzeczypospolitej polskiej
(Index of places of the Republic of Poland). A Polish gazetteer of 1934.
Istoriia mist i sil
Ukrainskoi RSR (Istoriia gorodov i sel
Ukrainskoi SSR in Russian. A History of Cities and Villages of the
in English). Written over a period from 1967 to 1974 (and later translated into
Russian), there is a volume for each Ukrainian oblast (province).
Many village names are popular and are found in several
regions. (Similar to the name Newtown, which is found in nearly every U.S.
state.) In such cases, you’ll have to check all these various resources covered
here in this chapter to see if anyone of them gives more details about the
parish or county.