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Family Stories
  • Family Stories

  • Finding Yesterday's Children

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  • It might seem odd or even unbelievable to those who can clearly say, I am Irish," or "I am Norwegian, "that there could be a people who could not describe their ethnic identity for generations. The essential problem was stated by Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute in his forward to Magocsi's Our People/ Carpatho-Rusyns and Their Descendants in North America, "The world is fuller of peoples than of states."

    The problems that our village-centric ancestors had in describing themselves led naturally to identification problems as they entered the United States. People from the same village could have Austria, Galicia, Austrian-Poland or Russia listed as their place of origin. Our people had no nationality for they were a tiny ethnic group in a small province in a huge empire. They were dependent upon ship and immigration officials for identification since they could not identify themselves.

    A problem shared with other cultural groups was that of different names being given to the same person by ship officials, U.S census-takers, priests, midwives and bureaucrats. Names too became Americanized as the first steps of assimilation took place. Wasyl could become Vasil, Vasily, Basil and Walter. Josaphat could become Asaphat, Asapoh, Joseah, Jozefus and John. Members of the same Szach family could have Shak, Schach Seak, Shachy, Sahchaky and Shaw as the names they were given or took in their new country.

    Continued...



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