07 November 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Dora Morris Garber's Death Certficate

Back when I ordered Sarah Morris', death certificate from the New York City Department Health and Mental Hygiene, I also ordered her daughter, Dora's. My grandmother, Dora Morris Garber, the eldest child of Isidore and Sarah Myers Morris, died at the age of 57 on 24 August 1954.

Kings County, New York, Certificate of Death, Number 156-54-315803 (24 August 1954), 
Dora Garber, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, 
New York.
Dora's husband (my grandfather) Jack Garber was the informant for the death certificate. At the time of her death, Dora lived at 367 Avenue S in Brooklyn, New York.

The certificate indicates that she'd lived in New York City for 43 years. In actuality, she arrived with her family from the Russian Empire in June of 1910 - so, she really had 44 years of New York City residence. [1]

While this death certificate indicates Dora was 57 when she passed away, other records indicate that she might have been a year younger.

Establishing dates of birth for eastern European Jewish immigrants is notoriously difficult. Birthdays were probably not as important as we make them now in the United States and the date of birth, if known at all, would likely have been recalled with respect to the Jewish calendar. Add to this the fact that the Russian Empire did not switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar until 1918 and calculating a date of birth for eastern European Jews became higher math. [2]

The only document I have for Dora that indicates an actual birth date (26 December 1897) comes from her naturalization petition. [3] If that was indeed her birth date, then she would have been 56 at death. I have a variety of records that show her a year older than her birth date would suggest, including the manifest which shows her as 13 in June 1910. Since vital records from her home town of Labun have not yet surfaced in Ukraine, we may never know.

Dora's slow decline and death from cancer was difficult for the family. I was born a few months before Dora's death and my mother told me that Dora was sad that she did not have the strength to hold her youngest grandchild. Dora's daughter, Leah, who was emotionally close to her mother, lived in Massachusetts. My uncle Lenny told me that during his mother's decline both he and my father would alternate going to her home after work to take care of her. It was good that she had such sweet and attentive sons.

1. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 11 January 2012), manifest, Vaderland, Antwerp to New York, arriving 7 June 1910, List 1, Passenger 25, Dora Morris; citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715.
2. SteveMorse.org reports that the last Julian date in Russia was 31 January 1918 and the first Gregorian date was 14 February 1918.
3. Dora Garber Petition for Naturalization ((3 May 1943), naturalization file no. 378602, Eastern District of New York; Records of the District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21; National Archives - Northeast Region, New York City.

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