The article is a case study in family genealogy and genealogical methodology, focusing on the author’s reconstruction of the early history of the first members of the rabbinical Polonski family from Russia after they immigrated to the United States during the early twentieth century. Describing and analyzing the various sources used in the study of family genealogy, it shows how gender, lines of kinship, language, and timing can play an important role in explaining the dichotomy between oral family history and written documentation. It also relates to the pitfalls of dealing with genealogical issues without employing a rigorous and precise methodology. Dealing with issues of inclusion and exclusion in family narratives, it shows how these variables helped shape the family’s oral history, giving us insight into why certain family members appear and others disappear over time from various family narratives.
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