Oral histories are, by definition, written with few if any documents. Certainly, that is the case here. Nevertheless, some documents were available and contributed to the project. One needs to be careful, though, not automatically to revere what is written, as documents can be misleading, inaccurate or intended to deceive. Russian census figures were compiled to aid taxation and conscription to the army, and many in the population hid their identity, told falsehoods or left town when they were conducted. Ship manifests and U.S. census results present a different kind of problem. They were completed by those with little English, spelling transliterated English names from the Russian or Yiddish differently each time they wrote them, and having a poor understanding of what questions were being asked. Even when there was an understanding, there was some motivation to move the truth slightly. Ages, addresses, dependents, places of origin, and family relationships are not always trustworthy, as those with a history of justified distrust of officials and their motivations were being asked to reveal family particulars.
Several kinds of documents were consulted: Russian and U.S. census results, ship lists and manifests, Ellis Island immigration records, Russian and American passports, and naturalization records. Most disappointing, no early letters could be located. A few of those documents, produced in part, and with translation where necessary, include:
To see the full family history, please read the full Radov Chronicles, available in three sections: