Markings in the Manifest's Name Column

One would assume any annotations in the name column would concern the immigrants' names, and many do. In some cases the name might have been clarified or corrected by a steamship company employee or an Immigrant Inspector.
Many of the notations found in the name column relate not to the name directly but to later record checks, usually in response to an inquiry by the immigrant himself (or herself). Officials annotated almost anything in the name column, probably because it usually provided some empty space where information could be added.

Letters "V/L" followed by numbers over numbers,
sometimes with a date . . .
Prior to 1924, there were no "Reentry Permits." This meant that immigrants living in the United States, who wanted to travel abroad, had no assurance they would be readmitted to the U.S. upon return. Many of them would contact the Immigration Service prior to travel and ask for some paper, or pass, to guarantee their reentry. A practice developed, especially at Ellis Island, to issue such immigrants a letter from the Port Commissioner documenting the immigrant's previous admission for permanent residence. The letter was not a guarantee, but greatly facilitated the immigrant's travel.

When the clerk verified (checked) the original passenger list in these cases, he or she would annotate the list to show the activity. The letters "V/L" or "V L" stand for Verification of Landing. The numbers refer to a New York (usually) file number wherein records of all these transactions were filed. The file did not relate to the individual. Rather, it contained stacks of incoming and outgoing letters on verification of landing matters. The files no longer survive. The annotations can be helpful, though, in that they suggest the immigrant was planning a trip abroad and may appear again on a later passenger list.

It may be that some of these verifications were performed for reasons other than reentry letters. For example, any other instance where an immigrant requested proof that he or she had been legally admitted to the United States. And there are occasions when one will find the "V/L" annotation format dated later than 1924. To see common references to Reentry Permits after July 1924, see below, and see the page on Visa annotations.

Letter "P" or word "Permit" with numbers . . .
After July 1, 1924, immigrants in the United States who wished to travel abroad could apply for and obtain a Reentry Permit. The process involved filing an application, submitting a fee, and waiting for the permit to arrive prior to departure. The application required the immigrant to name their original port, date, and ship of arrival so the record could be checked and verified. During the verification, a clerk would annotate the original record with the letter "P" or the entire word "permit," followed by the application number. The annotations can be helpful in that they suggest the immigrant was planning a trip abroad and may appear again on a later passenger list. To see the Reentry Permit noted on the return trip passenger list, see the page on Visa annotations

Both examples above and below show annotations including the word "Detroit," indicating the applications were filed in Detroit, Michigan, the INS office serving immigrant's current residence.

Clarified or Corrected Names . . .
The if, when, and how of immigrant name-changing on ship passenger lists is a matter of unending controversy. But there were simple rules. Many names were clarified as in the two examples shown here. This clarification may have been performed by a steamship company clerk prior to departure, by the ship's purser during the voyage, or by an Immigrant Inspector during the inspection process. Note the alternate names or spellings are written above or beside the original name, in a manner that would no doubt confound anyone wanting to transcribe the list
In other instances one will find a name deliberately crossed out (just the name, not across the entire page) and another name or alternate spelling entered. In these cases the name has been officially corrected according to standard bureaucratic procedure. Immigrants who arrived after June 29, 1906, often later encountered problems naturalizing because their immigration record name did not match their true name, and their immigration record name had to appear on the Petition for Naturalization. They could, if they desired, apply for a correction of the passenger list record. In addition to filing a form (of course), they submitted evidence that they and the immigrant on the passenger list were in fact one and the same person. When the request was approved, a government clerk was authorized to officially correct the record. He/she would cross out the old name and write in the new. In rare cases one will also find dates or file number references included in this annotation.
Correspondence or Record Checks with Other Agencies or Governments
Among the most perplexing annotations are references to various record checks and correspondence lacking enough information for modern researchers to decipher their meaning. That said, familiarity with immigration records and procedure can often provide likely explanations or possibilities for further research. The example above includes an Ellis Island correspondence file number, "98588/162." Ellis Island files generally begin with "98" or "99." What was the subject of the correspondence? We may never know.
Another example reads "AC Warsaw 4-19-38" with what looks like the initial of whoever verified the record. "AC Warsaw" is almost certainly a reference to the United States (American) Consul in Warsaw, Poland. The U.S. Foreign Service, though the Department of State, often requested record checks from the Immigration Service in the cases of Americans in distress abroad, of immigrants stranded abroad while on a visit to the Old Country, or in connection with visa applications beginning in the early 1920's. The annotation at right indicates that in 1938 the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw had some interest in the immigrant listed. It could be the immigrant was in Warsaw, or perhaps one of the immigrant's relatives applied for a visa in Warsaw, and named the immigrant as his sponsor.
The annotation below is also believed to relate to a passport or visa application to the Department of State. We know that by 1930 the State Department was active processing visa applications for relatives, and issuing passports to naturalized U.S. citizens. The annotation seems to list an application number, then a date (November 19, 1930), then the reference "D.O.S." On the other hand, the numbers may NOT relate to an application or a date, and the initials may be those of the verifier. We often must make our best guess based on understanding of immigration procedure of the time. In the same vein, the annotation on the line above our example seems to refer to correspondence between the New York (NY) immigration office and the Bureau (B/C, bureau correspondence) dated January 26, 1942.

USB, US Born, USC . . . See Annotations Regarding Nationality and Citizenship

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