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Gertrude Remembers Changing Her Name


Gertrude Remembers Changing Her Name (Transcript)

Interviewee: Gertrude (Gudrun) Hildebrandt Moller
Date of Birth: June 15, 1920
Date of Interview: October 5, 1992
Interviewer: Janet Levine, Ph.D
Immigrated from Germany in 1929 at Age 9
Ellis Island Collection: EI-222

Moller (Name Change in School):

I was born Gudrun Hildebrandt and married Moller, Mr. Moller, who was from Denmark. He immigrated here many years later and we met in New York. However when I started school in Chicago, where I grew up, needless to say, first of all, I couldn't speak a word of English, and I was the only child in the school that couldn't speak English. And (she laughs) it wasn't too happy the first couple of years but my mama said "Take heart because some day you're going to be able to speak two languages and all the ones that were teasing you will speak only one". And it was true. She was always right. So, my teacher suggested, since none of the children could pronounce Gudrun, which is an old Germanic-Scandinavian name, and a very beautiful name (I hear), she gave me a list of girls' names to choose from. So that all the kids could converse, you know, know what to call me. So I picked the name starting with a g, as with my name, and it was Gertrude. I'm not very happy with it, but it has stuck with me all of these years.

Download Copy of Transcript: Moller Name Change Transcript

Did You Know?

Old Elliscropped

When Ellis Island was opened in 1892, the facility bore little resemblance to the Renaissance Revival/Beaux Arts structure that people have come to know today. Made out of Georgia pine, the complex caught fire on June 15, 1897 and burned to the ground in about 6 hours. The current building was opened on December 17, 1900.