My Polish grandmothers last name was Dziubenofska, but I know that's not how it is spelt! I'm looking for the proper spelling.

Can you help find it for me?

She came over to Ellis Island and they changed it on her to dziuk. This is only a prefix to the full name.

  • 5
    Do you have any other information? For example, do you know where in Poland she came from? Also, just a wild guess, but could "Dziubanowska" have been the original surname?
    – Luke_0
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 22:10
  • 3
    Also note that the concept of "correct" spelling is fairly new. It's common in genealogy to find the same persons name spelled completely differently in different official papers, even to the point of many official papers recording just nick-names. This goes on up until the end of the 19th century in Sweden, I don't know about Poland but I'm guessing it's more or less the same. Commented Nov 29, 2013 at 8:04

3 Answers 3


One way to identify the spelling of a last name is to compare it with a list of common last names for that country.

It's always possible that the last name is not common, or the family intentionally spelt it in a unusual way, but a list of common names will often help.

For Poland, here's a ranked list of common last names in the 1990's.

There's also a list of all surnames at a Polish genealogy website.

Current list of surnames used in Poland (government resource, maintained).

The first one doesn't have much that looks useful (it's only the most common names) but some possibles from the second list:

  • Dziubandowska (similar to the Dziubanowska that Luke sugggested)
  • Dziubałtowska (the ł is pronounced like w in wall).

(plus other less likely spellings)

There's a site that maps the (modern) distribution of Polish names.

Putting those three names in the search box on that site, you can see the areas they come from, and this may either tie up with what you know or give you clues.

Another way to check would be with an online phone book (white pages) for the country, but Poland doesn't have one.

Dziubanovska is a rarer spelling that can be found in use (via Google), but it seems to be mostly people outside Poland (the w changes to a v).

  • 4
    Two notes (you might want to work that in somewhere): 1. Poland doesn't have internet-accessible white pages because the privacy protection laws forbid it, so it's not a technical problem and unlikely to change; don't hold your breath. 2. Polish names ending with "-ska" are the female versions of the generic (male) surname ending "-ski"; those are equivalent as far as things like the Polish telephone book name sorting goes. This is a common occurrence in Slavic languages. "Dziubanowski" gets me quite a few of hits, for example. Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 9:36

That Ellis Island changed immigrants' names is one of those family myths. Some people had altered their names prior to departure from Europe for various reasons and many more definitely changed their names after settling in their new residences. But it didn't happen at Ellis Island.

  • Many immigration agents were immigrants themselves.

  • Each person on staff usually spoke several languages.

  • About 30 languages were covered by agents daily, but if a more unusual one cropped up, the immigrant was detained until an agent who spoke it could arrive.

  • Ellis Island agents created few documents themselves, but usually just verified the passenger manifests supplied to them by the steamship company.

These links will take you to articles explaining why this is a myth ---

"What's in a name?" http://blog.lib.umn.edu/ihrc/immigration/2007/02/whats_in_a_name.html

"American Names: Declaring Independence" http://www.ilw.com/articles/2005,0808-smith.shtm

"Why Your Family Name Was Not Changed at Ellis Island (and One That Was)" http://www.nypl.org/blog/2013/07/02/name-changes-ellis-island#comment-10152

"Family History Friday: The real scoop about name changes in immigration records." http://blogs.archives.gov/online-public-access/?p=762


I think that initially this last name could sounded Dzióbinowska or Dziubinowska. His husband name would be Dzióbinowski or Dziubinowski. Polish word dziób mean beak, bill, bow, bow of ship, neb.


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