One of the helpful databases on Ancestry.com is the U.S. Consular
Registration Certificates, 1907-1918. This is where American citizens
abroad registered at the consular or legation office where they were either
visiting, studying or living.
Details such as the name of the registrant; consulate where registered; date
and place of birth; general travel data; names, places of birth; and
residences of spouse and children; and registrant's current place of
residence; were amongst those on the Registration Certificates according to
Quite a number of those registered, many of whom were women, who had
returned to Europe to visit their families, expressed a desire to return
home to America as soon as possible as they were caught in the turmoil of a
world at war. Many stated that they had lost their passports, run out of
money and their relatives had none either, and other indigent circumstances.
Several examples of registrations taken at the Riga American Consulate are
Mrs. Pauline Rabinowitz, born August 22, 1891, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
who left America on March 10, 1914 and arrived in Riga on March 29, 1914.
Pauline had no children and was visiting relatives. She resided at
Schwimstrasse 24, Riga, Latvia, care of Mrs. Bettie Kohen. Contacts in case
of emergency were her husband Harry Rabinowitz or Mrs. Becky Harrison, 862
Jennings Street, New York, NY.
Her husband Harry was born in Kelme, and was temporarily residing in
South Africa, because of business. There was also a statement by Pauline
she was going to join her husband in South Africa or return home as soon as
possible after visiting her relatives. The only pertinent fact missing was
her maiden name.
Another registration in Riga was:
Mrs. Adele Clarson, born June 23, 1886, in Talsen, Latvia, who left her
residence at 260 Sydney Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, on June 25, 1914,
and arrived in Latvia on July 10, 1914, with the intent of visiting her
parents. Her address where she was staying was Grossestrasse, Sassmaken,
pr. Talsen, Kurland, Russia.
She was married to Albert Clarson, who had been born in Riga and she was
traveling with her young children: Elvira Clarson, born April 4, 1909,
Somerville, MA; Beatrice Clarson, born June 24, 1910, South Boston, MA; and
Adelia Clarson, born July 12, 1912, South Boston, MA. Imagine traveling
with three children all under five years of age!
Yet another Riga registration was:
Mrs. Albert Sulzberger (maiden name Mamie Caro), who was born March 27,
1889, in Riga, Latvia, and who was visiting her relatives. Traveling with
her was her daughter Lottie Sulzberger, who was born January 31, 1909, in
She was residing at Kleine Munzstrasse 16, Q4, care of Mrs. Press. Her
husband Albert was born in Lodz, Poland. They lived in Paterson, NJ, at 18
Apart from the registrations from Europe there were also ones from other
parts of the world such as those of Jewish students studying in yeshivas in
Mea Shearim such as Mordechai Rabinowitz, and those in Melbourne, Australia,
such as Isard Zeltner, studying oil skin and waterproof manufacturing, and
other such pursuits.
There was also those individuals who left America to find work such as Jack
Zemel who went to Vancouver, Canada, to work as a signwriter. And others,
who went on business such as Joseph Zimmelman, who was born in Poland and
went to Buenos Aires to sell diamonds for Weinberg Brothers in NYC. His
wife and six children also lived in Argentina.
If you wish to delve further into documents of this period, there are also
Consular Registration Applications, 1916-1925, for those who wished to
extend their stays abroad. These applications are just as interesting as
the Registration Certificates. One, in particular, was for a Charles R.
Cantor, the son of Abraham Cantor, born Kurland, December 1, 1876, who was a
major hotel, saloon and cabaret owner in the Panama Canal Zone. He left
America in 1913 and was married to Celia Frank.
The documents in his file provided not only a fascinating business history,
but one of his charitable endeavors as well. As the consul wrote in one
document, Charles R. Cantor "was known by every soldier and sailor on the
Isthmus and there is not one that would not do almost anything for him."