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07 February 2014

Ethnic and Language Boundaries

Political boundaries are usually clearly defined.  Language boundaries and regions where one custom "starts" and another one "stops" are never as clear. Don't assume a nativity for an ancestor based solely upon their spoken language or social customs. Cultural boundaries are more fluid than political boundaries. Of course, oceans also serve as boundaries (both political and cultural) and they are fairly fluid (grin!).


  1. The most extreme case of different political boundaries I know of is the man who was born in England or Denmark or Germany, according to different sources. All were correct. The island of Helgoland/Heligoland, where he was born, was at different times English, Danish, and German.

  2. After comedian Sid Caesar's recent death, his father Max Caesar was mentioned as being from Poland. The 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 census records of Max and Ida listed his birthplaces as Poland, Austria, Gaicia, and Hungary (I forget in which order). There was also a big discrepancy in his date of immigration and some discrepancy in his age.

    1. That's a good example, Ernie. My own personal ones are limited to Hanover in one census, Prussia in another and Germany in another.

      But it is interesting to see it in a well-known person's past.

      All of which makes an excellent reminder of the importance of looking at as much as possible. Thanks for posting it.