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Joined: 30 May 2021
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Post Posted: Mon May 31, 2021 11:48 am      Post subject: Immigration and Naturalization
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I have recently come across 2 Soundex cards for my Polish Grandfather from the U.S. Dept of Labor, Immigration and Naturalization service. The cards relate to Naturalization. Each card lists 2 surnames....on one of the cards the surname I know my grandfather by, Dudek , is listed and then followed by another name in parenthesis (Calso). On the 2nd Soundex card the order of the names is reversed and Calso is listed without parenthesis and Dudek is listed in parenthesis. They are separate cards with different Soundex numbers. The info on both of the cards matches what I know about my Grandfather. Can someone shed some light on why there are 2 surnames on each card ???? I have struggled for years to try and find my Grandfathers name on passenger lists using the name I know, Dudek. Is this a clue or am I heading down a rabbit hole ?
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EANWhitson
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Joined: 18 Apr 2012
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Post Posted: Tue Jun 01, 2021 6:47 am      Post subject:
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Honestly, there is no single answer and you may never know the exact answer for your ancestor. But if there are two surnames listed, then the person has used both names here in the US, so you will want to research both names.

I have a gg uncle that actually used three names, but only two before he naturalized. Both names are listed on NARA records for him, specifically in the alien files. He was a crewman and at one point used an alias to get into the country as a stowaway (and was promptly kicked out for it which is how I know).

I have seen where ancestors who have lived here changed their names, usually to become more "Americanized," but I've also seen them use another Polish name as well. Sometimes that can be due to a step parent taking care of them, sometimes they took their mother's name if a man abandoned them, sometimes you just never know.

It really wasn't until social security numbers became a thing that just using/changing a name stopped. Before that, name changes were pretty easy to do - you just did it. Not every state required you to go to court to get it done which is why we don't often see paperwork for such a thing. State laws differ and it wasn't easy to track someone like it is today.

You will also see this in Polish records. You'll notice when someone has two surnames there might be something like "vel" between the names. In Polish records, that lets you know that the person went by either one of the surnames. Again, for the same reasons as above or depending on the years, (early 1800s, late 1700s) surnames were fluid and not established for common folk.
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