Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase Clow, PhD

First Reader

Robert Bradford, MA


It is commonly believed that genealogical research has become easier and more popular than ever before, and with more and more records being digitized and available over the internet, the ability to research family history can be done by anyone with an interest and a computer. Where one might have had to travel to the places that housed the records that trace family life, now many of those records are online, with the data store growing all the time. Similarly, relatively inexpensive DNA testing is bringing family background and history to the masses.

However, while science and technology have revolutionized genealogical research, it can still be very difficult to research one’s family history. Specifically, for Ashkenazi Jews, those from Central and Eastern Europe, there is a history of name changes, both given and surname, which makes the search for one’s ancestors a difficult challenge. Exploring why and how the Ashkenazi took multiple names, both in Europe and after immigration, shows an additional level of complexity added to genealogical research. For genealogists of Ashkenazi descent, experienced by this author’s personal search, understanding the background and issues of having multiple names makes the difference in being able to successfully document one’s family tree.