Looking at Berl’s and Brana’s Passport a Little More Closely

Note:  My post titled “Some Roizen family history” included a passport photo of my dad as an infant and his parents.  Below, I’ve taken a little closer look at the passport document as a whole.  

passport photo 1924

It’s notable, first of all, that this is a Russian passport and its lead assertion includes an affirmation that that Berl, the passport’s bearer, is a Russian citizen.  The surname provided is clearly “Roizen,” which, I guess, may go some distance toward clearing up, once and for all, the old question whether the family’s surname was originally “Roizen” or “Rosen.”  The passport also documents that “Moghilev” was the place Berl resided, in the district of “Podolie.”  This offers a nice bit of independent documentary evidence that the Roizens’ hometown was indeed Mogilev-Podolsky.  The passport’s initial declaration also shows that Berl, his wife, and his son were headed for Canada.  Brana is also listed as 26 years old and the infant son, “Josif,” as 10 months old.  The passport appears to have been issued on August 27, 1924.  This suggests that both Berl and Brana were born in the 19th century, perhaps in 1898.  Dad’s birthdate of record is September 9th, 1923, which would have made the infant pictured in the photo closer to 11 months or even one year old than the 10 months indicated.  

The passport is good for one year only, beginning August 27, 1924.  It appears to have been issued at “Bucarest” or Bucharest, which is in southern Romania.  According to Google Maps, the shortest route between Mogilev and Bucharest is 624 kilometers (or 388 miles). The overland trip would have taken them across the center of Moldova and much of eastern Romania.  Bucharest is not a port city, so the couple must have boarded their ship elsewhere, perhaps Constanta, Romania’s largest port city on the Black Sea at the southeastern tip of the country.  If so, their trip would have taken them down the Black Sea, past Istanbul, into the Aegean Sea, down the coast of Greece, through the Mediterranean, and then out across the Atlantic to Halifax, where I believe they landed.  That’s quite a sea voyage!  The circular green stamp directly above the passport photo looks to be Canadian, and perhaps most likely it documents their entry at Halifax.  The date is faint but I make it out to be August 30, 1924, which in turn suggest that the voyage may have taken as much as a month to complete.  I’ll leave it to another time to figure out how many sea miles that trip represented and how many days it would take passenger ships in 1924 to make the trip.

So, it appears there’s a pretty good harvest of information in this fine old document.

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One Response to Looking at Berl’s and Brana’s Passport a Little More Closely

  1. Pingback: My father at 3 1/2, with his mother | Ron Roizen's blog

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