I went huh? a couple times this weekend over the same post. Not actually the post itself, but the description of the post. On one weekly genealogy blog roundup I read "Schelly Talalay Dardashti at Tracing the Tribe catches the New York Times perpetuating the myth of names being changed at Ellis Island, and wonders when this myth will finally be put to rest." On another it said, " Ellis Island: A rose by any other name... by Schelly Talalay Dardashti on the Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog. This is an important post for everyone working with immigration records - Schelly takes the New York Times to task for publicizing the myth that names were transliterated at Ellis Island." The post about which they are speaking is here.
My great-grandfather went through a name change as an immigrant. So, the myth is that the officials at Ellis Island (or any other official) changed the name for immigrants. However, many immigrants changed their own names. That wasn't clear from the descriptions. I still have the original birth certificate (now falling apart) of that great-grandfather on which his name is clearly given as: Pavel Chodur anovy oh Dolinsky. This is the classic Slovak double name. Pavel's mother had one too. She was Anna Valuch-Malarik.
The question is who made the decision and when to shorten his name to Pavel Dolinsky (the descriptor) from Pavel Chodur (the actual surname). It was Pavel's great-grandfather who adopted the double name as Jan Chodur-Dolinsky (born in 1799). His father was Adam Chodur b. 1770, son of another Pavel. Luckily I always knew this, because Pavel daughter, my grandmother, often told me that Dolinsky wasn't even their real name. So this is a nuanced myth-busting. Immigrants changed their names on their own, officials didn't do it for them. Got it. However, how many immigrants were cajoled into changing their names by the derision or ignorance of same said officials? Harder question to answer. Suffice it to say that non-Anglo immigrants have found it easier to change their names. Although my great-grandfather probably consented to the name change after a while, he couldn't have instituted it because he would have chosen Chodur over Dolinsky. (that is, the surname over the descriptor of the surname). Dolinsky happened because it came last in the name.
I've never looked for it, but now I would like to see his citizenship papers. I remember my grandmother telling me that she and her siblings helped him study for it. I can see by the U.S. censuses that it happened between 1920 and 1930. I'd like to see how he handled his name. Starting in 1910, the name on the census is always a variant of Dolinsky. He called himself Dolinsky in his 1903 marriage license in Pennsylvania. However, in the 1900 census he is clearly Paul Hodur. I don't wish to disagree with the poster, but how much of that is myth or not, I still question.