My last name is Vazuka, but it is polish and was anglicized upon arrival to the US.

How do you spell it in Polish?

How do you pronounce Vazuka in Polish?

  • 3
    On what basis do you say that it was anglicized "upon arrival"? What's the earliest document you have for your immigrant ancestor (if you know who that is)? You may not be aware that the information on US passenger lists after 1892 came from information gathered at the ticket agency in the departure port, and the passenger is not necessarily the person who bought the ticket.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 5:03
  • 3
    I tried the most simple guesses. I couldn't find any "Wazuka"'s in social networks, but there's a large number of "Łazuka"'s.
    – tsuma534
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 8:48
  • 1
    Gentle Reminder: comments are for suggesting improvements to a question. I know it's tempting and we all do it, but please try not to answer questions in the comments.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 4:30
  • 1
    I've started a Meta discussion: genealogy.meta.stackexchange.com/q/3384/1006
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 22:01

3 Answers 3


There is no simple way to determine the original name with any accuracy from the information you have supplied. This is partly because there would have been no single event, such as an arrival, during which the name was formally changed from one spelling to another, although the spelling on arrival may well have been anglicised. The idea that names were officially changed on arrival at Ellis Island, or anywhere else, is a persistent fiction - the passenger lists were assembled long before arrival, as has been mentioned in the comments, and nobody would have been checking if someone used the exact same spelling as on the passenger list once they'd moved to Wisconsin or wherever.

It is more likely that in early records such as census and civil birth and marriage records and yes, immigration records, you will find multiple spellings as various recordkeepers attempted to render the name as they heard it, and eventually a spelling was settled on - perhaps because this was the spelling on a US birth certificate or other official document used through someone's life, perhaps because it was an easy and obvious spelling change (like a Jensen becoming a Johnson).

So the sort of questions you need to find the answer to are these:

  1. At what point was the spelling Vazuka first used in the US? On what records?
  2. What other spellings are used by the family in the US, if any?
  3. Were they part of a Polish immigrant community - e.g. might there be a local Polish language newspaper or did they attend a Polish-speaking church, where records might more accurately reflect the original name.
  4. Where in Poland did they originate? If nothing in the US gives you the information you need, you may still be able to go back to the records in Poland knowing, e.g. Jan son of Bartek was born 1st January 1900 in this village and find that there was only one such possible birth record in that area.

As nkjt said, there is no simple way to determine the original name from what you have given us. Based on what I know of Polish names and pronunciation, your surname might have originally been spelt Waszuka, Waczuka, or Wassuka. I've confirmed these surnames are real using Google, but they are only educated guesses and I wouldn't want them to put you on the wrong track.


If they were travelling from the (then) Russian Empire, then their name could be first changed into cyrillic, then germanized in Hamburg (common harbour for migrants to leave from) then anglicized at the entry to US. And it might not have been a Polish surname in the first place (also not that rare with Polish families in XIX century). Documents - perhaps scans? - would be helpful. As a native Polish speaker I'm afraid 'Vazuka' does not look similar to any surname I know.

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