New Name to Hide Ethnicity?

It was not unusual for members of some immigrant communities to change their name some point after their arrival in the new country. The difficulty is that these individuals often immigrated under their original name only to change it after settling somewhere. The anglicization of theirname was not just to make it easier to pronounce, it was also to keep others from knowing their ethnic heritage. Irish immigrants may drop the initial “O” of their last name. Members of other groups may use the first two or three letters of their non-English name upon which to base their choice of an English one. Some would simply choose a different last name.

These changes may be documented in the individual’s naturalization record. Family stories about the name change may have been passed down to the present generation. Individuals who were truly trying to keep their ethnic past a secret (even from their new families) may have passed down family stories about their ethnic origins.

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