Oral history
History witnesses

Alan Duben

Interlocutor name:
Interlocutor surname:
Przemysław Kaniecki
Przemysław Jaczewski
Catalogue number:
Recording date:
19th September 2016
Recording location:
Recording duration:
Recording language:
Recording copyright:
POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews
The Decendents of Polish Jews Around the World

Related places

Interlocutor biogram

Alan Duben was born in New York City in 1943. In 1948 his family moved to suburban New Jersey.  His maternal grandmother came from Tykocin.  In 1907 she emigrated to the US. In 1973 he received a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago where he met his wife. Prior to Chicago he taught English in Turkey.  From 1973 to 2014 he undertook research and publications on Turkish society while teaching at universities in the US and Turkey. He first came to Poland in 1966. He returned in 2014, and until 2019 undertook research on the ways in which the Jewish past of Tykocin is today remembered. He has just completed a book on the subject.

Recording circumstances description

The interview was recorded at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw on the occasion of donating Alan Duben's grandmother's passport to the collections of the POLIN Museum.

Recording summary

  1. Finding family documents and discovering the origin of the interviewee's family; 00:00:21
  2. Tykocin; 00:05:58
  3. Emigration of the interviewee’s great-grandmother; 00:09:35
  4. First visit to Poland; the fate of Polish Jews; 00:10:59
  5. The fate of the interviewee’s family; 00:13:30
  6. The relationship between the interviewee and Tykocin; the interest of the interviewee's siblings in the family history; 00:16:42
  7. The interviewee’s grandfather; the interviewee’s childhood; 00:21:14
  8. The fate of the interviewee’s grandfather on his father’s side; 00:25:22
  9. The arrival of the interviewee’s ancestors in the USA; information on the interviewee’s family; 00:27:12
  10. Attitude of the interviewee’s parents towards the past; family relations; 00:29:38
  11. The interviewee’s relations with his grandmother; 00:34:11
  12. Anti-Semitism in New Jersey; experiencing anti-Semitism in childhood; 00:38:53
  13. The interviewee’s grandmother; grandmother’s cuisine; 00:47:14
  14. The cuisine in the interviewee's family home; 00:53:13
  15. Characteristics of the interviewee’s grandparents; 00:54:53
  16. The grandmother's attitude towards the interviewee's marriage; the interviewee's marriage; 00:56:02
  17. A visit to Tykocin with his wife; 01:01:49
  18. Talking to his grandparents about Poland; 01:02:56
  19. The death of the grandmother; the last years of the interviewee's grandmother's life; 01:05:04
  20. Lack of knowledge of the interviewee's mother about his interest in Poland; death of the mother; 01:07:09
  21. Information about the interviewee's grandmother: life in Tykocin, departure to the USA, obtaining American citizenship; 01:09:15
  22. The beginnings of the life of the interviewee’s grandparents in the USA; 01:13:07
  23. Marriage of the interviewee's parents; arrival of the interviewee's family in the USA; 01:14:14
  24. Childhood in the suburbs; 01:17:00
  25. A rabbi from the interviewee’s family; 01:18:21
  26. Interest in family history: recording the stories of the interviewee’s parents; 01:19:56
  27. Family documents; searching for family information; 01:21:53
  28. Conflict between the grandmother and the interviewee’s uncle’s wife; 01:24:30
  29. The relationship between the interviewee’s wife and his grandmother; 01:29:50
  30. The interviewee’s grandmother’s work in a factory; 01:31:56
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