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Family Stories
  • Family Stories

  • Finding Yesterday's Children

  • Research Challenges

  • A unique situation involves Carpatho-Rusyn naming patterns in which the same names were used over and over. Since Rusyn children did not receive middle names and so many families gave the same name for the first several children, there are many people with identical names who are not related. In addition, infant mortality was high and some families gave the same name again and again when a child died until it was given to a child who survived.

    Another significant pattern mentioned often on genealogical forums was the reluctance or even refusal of Rusyn immigrants to speak of the old country. Whether memories of semi-starvation and political oppression, embarrassment about the "backwardness" of peasant life, sorrow at the loss of their beautiful homeland and beloved family members-or any combination of these factors-caused this silence, it was a common pattern and prevented the "stories of the old land" that other cultures have passed down through the generations. The short lives of many of our ancestors (the average life span in Pennsylvania at the turn of the last century was 47) also contributed to the early loss of knowledge about the homeland they had left.

    The illiteracy with which Rusyn peasants entered America created another research void. It is estimated that 70% of Rusyn immigrants over the age of 14 were illiterate upon arrival in this country. There are no introspective journals recording first impressions of America or letters back and forth between the old country and the new to aid the researcher.

    Continued...



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