There is a common misconception, call it an old wives tale or an urban legend, that family names were often changed at Ellis Island. Such myths gain a great deal of credibility when newspapers such as the New York Times, the country’s “paper of record”, perpetuates these myths by repeating them, in this case in obituaries.
Kenneth A. Bravo, JD did a bit of research and found about half a dozen Times obituaries with similar erroneous Ellis Island stories. After doing the research on each, he was able to show the original name for each of them.
Bernice Bennett recently interviewed Kenneth Bravo about the experience. He describes the common misconception in Bernice’s podcast at http://goo.gl/nf5I1c.
My thanks to newsletter reader Marlis Humphrey for telling me about the podcast.