Name change question - But not the normal one

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jgenduso
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Name change question - But not the normal one

Postby jgenduso » 18 Oct 2010, 04:53

Hi - I've read a lot about names being changed when people immigrated over to the US. My question is different...Let me tell you the background.

My GF born in Sicily came over in 1905. Married my GM in 1910 (also Italian and immigrated). They had my dad in NYC in 1915.

On all my dad's documents he is list as Joseph Richard Genduso. Well when I found his NYC birth certificate it has Giuseppe Genduso. My assumption is that if you had a name in the US the only way to change was a formal name change? Did he not have to give birth certificate to get a driver's license or do anything else that required a birth cert?

I did a search and only found posts on immigration name changes.

Thanks in advance for any help,

Joseph
Joseph F Genduso, PMP, MEng, MBA

Researching Genduso, Lo Re, Cagnina, Gallina, Mancuso, Mazzarisi, Panzica, Fratallone and Trombello in Resuttano (CL), Sicily

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Eleven
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Re: Name change question - But not the normal one

Postby Eleven » 18 Oct 2010, 05:31

I dont think you had to change your name formally to use it legally. My mother and her siblings were born in the early 1900s. They were all born here. They were all given italian names..francesco, concetta, giovannina..they ended up being frank, connie and jennie..on their legal papers. My mothers marriage cert has jennie on it.

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Re: Name change question - But not the normal one

Postby Squigy » 18 Oct 2010, 06:03

Eleven wrote:I dont think you had to change your name formally to use it legally. My mother and her siblings were born in the early 1900s. They were all born here. They were all given italian names..francesco, concetta, giovannina..they ended up being frank, connie and jennie..on their legal papers. My mothers marriage cert has jennie on it.


Same with my great grandparents. In fact, my great grandmother (born in 1913 to immigrant parents) used to say she didn't even know her real name. She went by Lucy, but she said it was really Luisa, Lucia, or Lisa (her father called Lisa). As for her husband (born in 1909 to immigrant parents) we all thought he was Andy, but found out on his father's nat. record, he was listed as Andrea.

I can tell you for sure, neither of these people legally changed their names.
My Italian surnames:

Caserta: Maietta, Rossano, Tessitore, Negro, Peluso, Musone

Campobasso: D'Andrea, Barile

Catanzaro: Fiorelli/Fiorillo, Romito

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Re: Name change question - But not the normal one

Postby johnnyonthespot » 18 Oct 2010, 10:01

I know it is not a 100% reliable source, but here is what a Wikipedia article says on this subject:

Usually a person can adopt any name desired for any reason. Most states allow one to legally change one's name by usage with no paperwork, but a court order may be required for many institutions (such as banks or government institutions) to officially accept the change.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_change


Also, see here http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/ ... 29091.html
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Re: Name change question - But not the normal one

Postby oilman19 » 18 Oct 2010, 12:01

It is apparent that changing your name (intentially or otherwise) back then was much easier than today. Babies get social security numbers today which is one way in which to lock you into a legal name. Plus, most legal transactions today require so much identification that name changes are much more difficult.
My mother is 1st generation American. Her father's surname from Italy was Ianniello. Most of the time he went by Annillo in this country. His 3 sons all spelled their names differently. My mother went by Annillo, but her birth certificate (which I don't believe she ever saw) says Ianello.

I wondered for years how 4 people of the same family could have different names. No one was ever able to explain it to me.
I have since discovered that name changes were simply a way of life for many reasons back at the turn of the last century. I have come to expect it when I follow someone's immigration to America. As genealogists, we simply adapt.
Jim

Researching surnames Ianniello, Tamburrino, Mattora/Martora/Mattori & Scialla in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Caserta, Campania.

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Re: Name change question - But not the normal one

Postby jgenduso » 18 Oct 2010, 13:47

Thank you so much for the help. It helps to clear, unclear things, up for me.

Joseph
Joseph F Genduso, PMP, MEng, MBA



Researching Genduso, Lo Re, Cagnina, Gallina, Mancuso, Mazzarisi, Panzica, Fratallone and Trombello in Resuttano (CL), Sicily

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timo
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Re: Name change question - But not the normal one

Postby timo » 18 Oct 2010, 17:48

Since you ask about birth certificates...

My grandfather (who came over in the early 20th c as a boy) ended up working for the US government in the 1940s. He had no birth certificate from Italy. He had his Naturalization Certificate and a letter dating from 1942 on Department of Commerce stationery signed by the Director of the Bureau of the Census, recap'ing the 1920 census data for his family, including their date of arrival and the age given for my grandfather as of Jan 1, 1920. The letter reads "The Bureau of the Census does not issue birth certificates, but this record is usually accepted in place of one."

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Re: Name change question - But not the normal one

Postby Italysearcher » 18 Oct 2010, 18:16

When a person is illiterate and cannot correct the spelling of a name it doesn't really matter to them how the name is written as long as they get what they want or need at the time.
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Re: Name change question - But not the normal one

Postby oilman19 » 18 Oct 2010, 18:54

Ann, I have found that to be very true in my research. My grandfather even changed his birth day at times, once for the WW1 proscription, we suspect to avoid the potential draft. However, we can't be sure of anything and no longer have anyone to ask. He was illiterate and so I can't legitimately blame him for any of his many errors.
Jim

Researching surnames Ianniello, Tamburrino, Mattora/Martora/Mattori & Scialla in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Caserta, Campania.

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Re: Name change question - But not the normal one

Postby bikoljoe » 21 Oct 2010, 05:54

My grandmother's birth name (she was born in Italy) was Vincenza, but in the USA she became Jenny. The story that I heard was the Immigration Agent at Ellis Island could not spell Vincenza, and decided to list her as Jenny.

By the way, I am Joseph Gerald Genduso!

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Re: Name change question - But not the normal one

Postby nuccia » 21 Oct 2010, 06:44

Hi Joseph..

We hear many stories about the name changes at Ellis but this is not always the case because the person who wrote the info on manifests was usually a person from the same country or who spoke or was familiar with the language. Name changes occurred for many reasons - the person themselves were illiterate (or someone in their community, place of work, school etc) and so spelled the name phonetically on records, etc or the name was anglicized to better fit into the community the immigrants were living just to mention a few. Sometimes these names stuck. I have heard of whole families changing their names and I have seen brothers who all use variations in spelling of their original surname.

This article that I found and have written about on my blog may give you some insight as to why names were more commonly changed..

http://italiansurnames.blogspot.com/
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