Associates in Action

Associates in Action highlights BCG associates’ news, activities, and accomplishments. Contact Alice Hoyt Veen to include your news in an upcoming post.

Activities & Projects

Judith A. Herbert, CG, has joined the Editorial Board of The Record, the quarterly journal of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society.

Awards & Achievements

Harold Henderson, CG, has won first place in the Chicago Genealogical Society’s (CGS) writing contest.”One Family’s Nineteenth Century from New York to Chicago to Oregon: Joseph M. and Artamisia Ann (Talcott) Burdick,” will be published in CGS’s quarterly.

The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG®) honored several of its members for their achievements and service to the field of genealogy at its 2016 Professional Management Conference (PMC) in Fort Wayne, Indiana. APG President Billie Stone Fogarty presented the awards:

Yvette Hoitink, CG, APGQ Excellence Award for her September 2015 article “Use Content Marketing to Grow Your Business.”

Melanie D. Holtz, CG, received the Grahame T. Smallwood, Jr., Award of Merit, which honors personal commitment and outstanding service to the APG. Holtz was an APG board member in 2010 and from 2013–2014 and served on APG’s Professional Development Committee for six years. She is a member of the APG North Carolina Chapter. She operates an international research firm that specializes in Italian genealogy, dual citizenship, and probate cases.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, was awarded Honorary Lifetime Membership for her contributions to APG and to the field of genealogy.

Eileen M. O’Duill, CG, received the APG Professional Achievement Award. The award, created in 2007, recognizes exceptional professional achievement and ethical behavior with contributions to the field of genealogy. O’Duill, who lives in Ireland, served on the APG Board from 1995–2000 and 2007–2012. She is a genealogist, writer, and lecturer on Irish genealogy topics and is a co-author of Irish Civil Registration—Where Do I Start?

Career News

Darlene Hunter, CG, has been selected to join the full-time staff of the Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center (RELIC), Prince William County Library’s specialized genealogy and local history center, in Manassas, Virginia. As RELIC’s Library Services Technician III, her responsibilities include reference services, maintenance of the collection, and supervision of volunteers.

Publications

Karen Stein Daniel, CG, World War I Era Alien Enemy Registrations for New Mexico, 1918 (New Mexico Genealogical Society, 2016). Karen’s new book extracts and compiles fourteen months of the U. S. Marshal Records held at the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque. It is available for purchase through Amazon.com.

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, “Resolving a Modern Genealogical Problem: What was Rainey Nelson’s Birth Name?” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 104 (September 2016):203-13. The article explains how indirect evidence placed in cultural context may support a conclusion where vital records disclosure restrictions hamper solving a modern genealogical problem.

Harold Henderson, CG, “The Family of John S. and Zerviah (Hawkins) Porter of Jefferson County and Points West,” [Part 1 of 3], New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 147 (April 2016): 129-43.

Harold Henderson, CG, “How Much Was $14 Worth in 1824?” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly 31 (June 2016): 98-99.

 

Associates in Action

Welcome to Associates in Action! This monthly feature highlights BCG associates’ news, activities, and accomplishments. Contact Alice Hoyt Veen to include your news in an upcoming post.

Activities & Projects

Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG, was quoted as the BCG president in the New York Times news article, “A Personal Sort of Time Travel: Ancestry Tourism,” by Amy Zipkin, 29 July 2016.

Catherine Desmarais, CG, with Michael Ramage, CG, taught Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy at GRIP in June. Catherine will be coordinating The Coaching Lab: Forensic Genealogy from Inquiry to Affidavit at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) in January 2017.

David McDonald, CG, was featured in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel business news article, “Genealogist digs deep to unearth family roots.”

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, CG, JD, LLM, was the featured speaker at the 15 July 2016 Genealogical Institute on Federal Records Alumni Association Banquet. Her topic was “Including African American Genealogy in the American Mosaic.”

LaBrenda will conduct a workshop on 13 August 2016 for the Central Maryland Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc., at the Miller Branch Library in Ellicot City, Maryland, entitled “Analysis of Probate Records and Study of the Probate Process.” She will make two presentations at the 37th Annual National Conference of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc., in Atlanta, Georgia: on 14 October 2016, “A Forum on the Board for Certification of Genealogists”  and on 15 October 2016, “Researching African American Families that Came Out of Slavery: Application of the First Component of the Genealogical Proof Standard.”

Melanie D. Holtz, CG, coordinated and taught a course at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) in July. Resources and Strategies for Researching Your Italian Ancestors included additional course instructors Suzanne Russo Adams, MA, AG, and Paola Manfredi, AG. Melanie has also completed work on a four-year family history book for the surname Mattei.

Awards & Achievements

Amy Larner Giroux, PhD, CG, CGL. Congratulations to Amy and her team on their second place tie in the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Chronicling America Data Challenge. Amy’s team developed Historical Agricultural News, a search tool site for exploring information on the farming organizations, technologies, and practices of America’s past. The site describes farming as the window into communities, social and technological change, and concepts like progress, development, and modernity. http://www.neh.gov/news/press-release/2016-07-25

Career News

Dawne Slater, CG. Ancestry ProGenealogists has promoted Dawne from Associate Genealogist to Genealogist Researcher. The new position reflects her years of experience in the field and acknowledges the work she has done at Ancestry since joining the firm last fall.

Publications

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, CG, JD, LLM, A Guide to Researching African American Ancestors in Laurens, South Carolina, and Selected Finding Aids (Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Pub., 2016). LaBrenda’s book is both a locality guide, with tips on where to look for sources, and a “how to” manual for those who have not mastered genealogical methodologies. It provides background information applicable to all South Carolina counties and includes references to “modern” finding aids and websites. She offers practical advice and research strategies based on her experience and formal studies. LaBrenda will discuss her new book on the blogtalk radio program Research at the National Archives and Beyond, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bernicebennett, 25 August 2016. The book is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Xlibris.

Diverse Communities: Researching Italian Ancestors Part 2

 Italian Genealogical Research: Part II

Melanie D. Holtz, CG

Italy is a land of beauty and contrasts, not only in its topography but also within its records. Yet that’s what makes this form of genealogical research so interesting! Knowledge of the major record sets is key to making sure your research is thorough. The five major record sets are:

  • Civil Registration – Italian civil registration is not just birth, marriage, and death records. It also includes municipal census records, records compiled from municipal census records, such as the Stato di Famiglia Storico [Historical State of the Family Certificate] or the Certificato di Stato di Famiglia [Certificate of Family Status, one of several forms of an Italian residency certificate], diverse acts [such as civil recognitions, births of abandoned children, adoptions, deaths of residents elsewhere, stillbirths], marriage banns, supplemental marriage, birth, and death records, and citizenship records.

If you wish to order civil records from an Italian town hall, it’s important to understand what formats the documents come in. Your purpose will determine what format of the record you order. For example, if you need the record because you are tracing the heirs for an estate, then you will need the “Certificato,” as other formats would not be acceptable in a U.S. court. Keep in mind that Italy has privacy restrictions that extend for seventy years after the creation of the record.

Two sets of civil registers are created each year. One set is conserved in the town hall and the other set is sent to the Tribunale (similar to a District Court) for use in legal proceedings. After seventy years, the Tribunale’s copy is sent to the province’s Archivio di Stato (provincial/state archives) for conservation. Understanding how these records were created may help find a record when one set of civil records has been destroyed.

FamilySearch currently has the largest and most accessible collection of Italian civil, ecclesiastical, military, and notarial records outside of Italy. According to their agreement with the Italian State Archives (Direzione Generale per gli Archivi or DGA), they are digitizing all civil records held within Italy’s provincial/state archives. Digitized copies of these records are then returned to the Italian State Archive, a key part of the digitization agreement. The DGA is placing these images on their website, Portale Antenati. These records will eventually be indexed by name, date, location, and record type. Ancestry also has a modest collection of Italian civil records.

  • Ecclesiastical Records – This record set includes baptisms, confirmations, death/burial records, marriages, marriage attachments, dispensations, and different types of ecclesiastical censuses. FamilySearch has some ecclesiastical records on microfilm but the great majority must be accessed in local parishes or diocesan archives.

In general, ecclesiastical records extend back to the end of the Council of Trent in 1583 or to the construction date of the parish the ancestors attended. Records of defunct parishes are often kept at the diocesan archives. In 1614, Pope Paul V prescribed the keeping of status animarum (State of the Souls) records, a census-like record used to track the vital statistics of all parishioners and the sacraments (baptism, confirmation, communion) they had received. They were also used for taxation purposes in some time periods and localities.

  • Military Records – Key military records consist of conscription records, extraction lists, service records, and discharge papers. FamilySearch has a limited amount of these records on microfilm or in digitized form. Some provincial/state archives have created databases containing the conscription records for their province, which can be accessed on their websites. For an example of one such project, see the website of the Archivio di Stato di Cosenza.
  • Census and Tax Assessment Records – Census and tax assessment records take many different forms in Italy, depending on time period, locality, and who created the records. Various forms of land or property taxation censuses existed into the mid-nineteenth century (for some areas into the 1870s). Often called catasti onciari, censimente, or riveli, they were usually created by ecclesiastical authorities. Many provincial/state archives are digitizing these records, which can be a valuable resource, especially when parish records have been destroyed.

Some forms of municipal censuses began after Italian Unification but were phased out with the onset of federal censuses. If the municipal censuses survive (registri di popolazioni, shede individuale, foglie di famiglie), they can be an invaluable source of information, as they often document the vital statistics of whole family groups, as well as immigration/emigration information. Federal censuses are usually not available for consultation.

  • Notarial Records – In Italy, notaries recorded all types of legal transactions. Therefore, notarial records can be an invaluable source of evidence. Some types of notarial records are mortgages, property sales/transfers (may include the sale of land, buildings, animals, trees or fruits thereof, wells/water rights), adoptions, atto di notarietà (sworn statement used to prove identity when there was no birth or baptismal records), wills, dowries and marital contracts. I once found an amazingly helpful property transfer that detailed three generations of a family and provided death dates and places for the initial couple on the deed, the client’s second great-grandparents. As access to parish records was not permitted in this area of Italy, this pre-civil registration information was especially valuable. To learn more about notarial records and their application to genealogical research, consider attending my BCG webinar this coming November, “Civil Law Notaries: Using Notarial Records to Build a Family History.” Watch SpringBoard for an announcement in October.

FamilySearch has a limited amount of these records digitized or on microfilm but their collection is increasing. The majority of these records need to be researched onsite in Italy’s provincial/state archives or notarial archives, depending on the province.

Other types of records do not have as strong a genealogical application as the four listed above. Italian newspapers are one of these resources. The great majority of emigrating Italians came from the peasant class, which was largely illiterate. Obituaries, wedding announcements, or “hometown happenings” sections in Italian newspapers for the majority of Italian citizens are not found until the later part of the twentieth century, long past the major immigration waves. However, Italian newspapers are a valuable resource for cultural, social and historical research. There is no centralized source for digitized historical versions of Italian newspapers, like one sees in the U.S. These records are being maintained on individual newspaper websites. For example, see the Italian newspaper, La Stampa, which has digitized all of its publications since its founding in 1867.

In contrast, Italian-American (Italian-Canadian, Italian-Brazilian, etc.) newspapers contain notifications of immigrant arrivals, wedding announcements, death notices, and many other types of valuable genealogical information. You can find these records in the collections of historical societies, as well as state and local libraries.

Further Study in Italian Research

Courses/Institutes

There are several Italian courses available now or during the upcoming year.

  • The National Institute of Genealogical Studies has four Italian genealogy courses available, ranging from basic to intermediate, with more to come in the future.
  • The Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research will offer an Italian Genealogical Research Practicum in October 2016. The practicum is for the intermediate researcher with some experience in Italian research.

Resources

The list below is not exhaustive but does provide important resources for a genealogist learning to work in Italian genealogical research.1 Several language resources are included.

Amadè, Luca Sarzi. L’Antenato Nel Cassetto: Manuale di Scienza Genealogica. Sesto San Giovanni, Milano, Italy: Mimesis Edizioni, 2015. This resource is in Italian and contains handwriting samples of abbreviations seen in documents written in Latin.

Battelli, Giulio. Lezioni di Paleografia. 4th ed., second printing. Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2007).

Bischoff, Bernhard. Paleografia Latina Antichita e Mediovo. 2nd ed., Italian translation. Padova, Italy: Editrice Antenore, 1986.

Cole, Trafford R. Italian Genealogical Records: How to Use Italian Civil, Ecclesiastical, & Other Records in Family History Research. Salt Lake City, Utah: Ancestry Incorporated, 1995.

Holtz, Melanie D. “Evaluating the Evidentiary Value of an Italian Record.” Finding Our Italian Roots Blog, 21 May 2015. http://italiangenealogyroots.blogspot.com/2015/05/evaluating-evidentiary-value-of-italian.html : 2016.

Holtz, Melanie D. “Genealogical Standards in Italian Genealogical Research, Genealogical Proof Standard (Part I).” Finding Our Italian Roots Blog, 23 November 2014. (http://italiangenealogyroots.blogspot.com/2014/11/genealogical-standards-in-italian_23.html : 2016.

Holtz, Melanie D. “Applying Genealogical Standards to Italian Genealogical Records.” Finding Our Italian Roots Blog, 17 November 2014. http://italiangenealogyroots.blogspot.com/2014/11/applying-genealogical-standards-to.html  : 2016.

Holtz, Melanie D. “Adding Cultural Context to Your Family History.” Finding Our Italian Roots Blog, 29 July 2015. http://italiangenealogyroots.blogspot.com/2015/07/adding-cultural-context-to-your-family.html : 2016.

Mendola, Louis. Sicilian Genealogy and Heraldry. New York: Trinacria Editions, 2013.

 

Melanie D. Holtz, CG®
Melanie@holtzresearch.com
www.italyancestry.com
Specializing in Italian Genealogical Research and Dual Citizenship


1 The resources given in the first post on this subject have not been repeated.

 

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

Diverse Communities: Researching Italian Ancestors Part 1

Italian Genealogical Research: Part I

Melanie D. Holtz, CG

Between 1880 and 1920 more than four million Italians immigrated to the United States. During this same time period, there were significant Italian immigration waves to South America, Canada, Switzerland, France, England, and many other countries. Italians remain one of the largest ethnic groups within the U.S., and interest in Italian ancestry and culture continues to grow exponentially. Professional genealogists, especially those working in the U.S., Canada, or South America, may encounter Italian ancestors when researching an extended family.

Historical Considerations for Italian Research

The country of Italy was created from multiple city-states during a time period known as Italian Unification. Combining vastly different city-states with different cultural mores and dialects was especially challenging, and those differences are seen within the records. As not all areas of present-day Italy became part of the country during Italian Unification, understanding history can help locate hard-to-find records.

1543–1563 The Council of Trent, a body of Catholic leaders, met in the city of Trent to reform various policies of the Catholic Church. After the Council’s adjournment in 1563, priests were required to maintain baptismal, marriage, and death/burial records. In 1614, Pope Paul V prescribed the keeping of status animarum (State of the Souls) records in his book, Rituale Romanum.
1559–1713 Spain ruled most of present-day Italy. Some records in this time period are in Spanish.
1713–1796 The Austrian Hapsburgs ruled most of present-day mainland Italy. German can be found in the records of this time period, most especially in the northern regions.
1796 Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France, conquered the Austrians and gained control of Italy.
1806–1815 Napoleon ruled most of Italy. In 1806 he implemented civil registration.
1808 The King of Naples introduced civil registration to the Kingdom of Naples (in general, those areas of mainland Italy south of Roma). Civil registration was called the Stato Civile Napoleonico (Napoleonic Civil Registration).
1813–1815 Civil registration ended in most areas of northern Italy, and the present-day Italian regions were returned to their former rulers. Southern Italy maintained civil registration from 1806. Sicilia did not begin civil registration until 1820 and continued it unabated.
1816–1865 Civil registration during this time period was called Stato Civile Restaurazione (Restoration Civil Records]) and kept by part of the peninsula between 1816–1865 and in Sicilia from 1820–1865.
1821–1831 During this time period there were many revolts against former rulers. You may find that civil registers for some years were destroyed, especially in the region of Sicilia.
1848–49 There were bloody revolts against Austrian rule in most major cities. New governments were established, and the Pope won back control of Roma.
1858–59 Most of northern Italy was united under the Kingdom of Sardinia.
1860–62 Sicilia and southern Italy were freed from French rule.
1861–65 Italian Unification: On 15 November 1865 King Vittorio Emmanuele united all city-states, except for the city of Roma, the independent country of San Marino, and the region of Venezia. After this point, civil registration was known as the Stato Civile Italiano (Italian Civil Records).
1866 The region of Venezia became part of Italy after the Prussians defeated the Austrians. Law now mandated civil registration.
1870–71 The French were ousted from Roma during the Franco-Prussian War. Italy took control of all areas except for the Vatican. The capital of Italy was moved from Torino to Roma.
1915–18 After World War I, Trentino and Trieste became part of Italy.
1946 Italians voted to establish a republican constitution.
1970 Civil divorce was made legal.

Getting started in Italian research is not as daunting as it might seem. There are many helpful resources available for free or at low cost. FamilySearch’s Family History Research Wiki on Italian Genealogy contains helpful information on all record types. They also offer a video course on beginning Italian genealogical research, genealogical word lists, and letter-writing and handwriting guides that are very useful.

Brigham Young University also has an Italian script tutorial that can be invaluable when reading the records.

The resources listed below are aimed at the beginner and intermediate researcher. They contain translations of the most commonly found documents, guidance on ordering documents from Italy, details on the various Italian archives, and other information.

Adams, Suzanne Russo. Finding Your Italian Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide. Provo, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 2008.

Colletta, John Philip. Finding Italian Roots: The Complete Guide for Americans. 2nd ed. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2008.

Nelson, Lynn. A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Italian Ancestors: How to Find and Record Your Unique Heritage. Cincinnati, Ohio: Betterway Books, 1997.

Is It Important to Know the Town of Origin?

It is essential to know the ancestor’s town of origin, as nearly all records useful for genealogical research were created at the town (commune) or parish (parrocchia) level. If the town is unknown the research should first focus on the records created by these ancestors in the place of immigration. Once the town of origin is known, research can proceed in the Italian records.

In large cities, like Roma, Palermo, or Napoli, knowing the neighborhood (quartiere) where the family resided is essential to effectively research the civil records. Large cities had multiple town halls so the civil records are separated by the neighborhood where they were recorded. Not knowing the neighborhood may require paging through thousands of records for each town hall and each year, a time-consuming process.

Italian military records are arranged by military district, with only a few military districts within each province. Each provincial/state archives (Archivo di Stato) conserves 19th century military records for their province. Where a researcher can find pre-19th century military records varies. Research in military records could determine, for example, the town of birth for a male ancestor born after 1855, even though all that is known is that he came from the province of Napoli.

Ports of Emigration

Understanding the major ports of Italian emigration is also important. Italian ancestors who emigrated out of Genova were usually from northern Italy. Ancestors who emigrated from Napoli were usually of southern Italian or Sicilian descent. While some immigration manifests show the port of emigration as Palermo, these ships also docked in Napoli to gather supplies and additional passengers for the transatlantic journey. Therefore, ship manifests that show Palermo as the port of emigration may also include immigrants from southern Italy.

Understanding the general area an ancestor may have come from could help determine the town of origin, as town names on immigration manifests are often abbreviated. For example, if an ancestor came from the town of Santa Maria, knowing the general area of origin may help narrow down which one of the twenty-plus towns in Italy that begin with Santa Maria is the correct one.

Tracing Italian Women

Italian women used their birth surname throughout their lives, even on their immigration manifests. Occasionally, you may find a record under her maiden and married surnames, with the word “in” between them. Ecclesiastical records may note only her first name once she reaches adulthood, and she may be designated as “the wife of [husband’s name]” or “the daughter of [father’s name].” However, while this was the practice in Italy and other Latin countries, after immigration to the United States Italian women were recorded using their husband’s surname.

In my next post, we’ll discuss the five most common record sets used in Italian research, the best places to find records outside of Italy, and additional educational resources on Italian genealogical research.

Melanie D. Holtz, CG
Melanie@holtzresearch.com
www.italyancestry.com
Specializing in Italian Genealogical Research and Dual Citizenship

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

More BCG Webinars Available On Demand

The two most recent BCG webinars (October and November 2015) are now accessible on demand from Vimeo.com. Both are available for twenty-four-hour rental ($2.99 each) or for purchase of unlimited streaming and download ($12.99 each).

The new webinars are

Melanie D. Holtz, CG, “Applying the Standards to International Research,” and

Harold Henderson, CG, “Do You Have the Reflexes You Need to Become Certified?”

Go to the BCG Webinars tab at the top of this page for free previews and links to Vimeo recordings of both.

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer, are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Free BCG Webinar: Applying Standards to International Research

Tuesday, 20 October 2015, at 8:00 p.m. EDT, Melanie D. Holtz, CG, will present “Applying the Standards to International Research.”

A recording of this webinar is available for a small fee from Vimeo.

The idea of “reasonably exhaustive research” might be one of the most mysterious elements of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). What exactly does it mean? How do you know when you’ve achieved it? How does the GPS apply to international research?

Melanie D. Holtz, CG

The lecture will focus on showing how the standards can apply to international research through the evaluation of several Italian case studies and/or research problems. Some research problems naturally require more work to meet the definition of reasonably exhaustive research, while others may be a lot simpler.

Understanding reasonably exhaustive research is important in preparing a kinship determination project. Examples abound for those who focus on U.S. research. However, for those who don’t, it is often helpful to see examples from other geographic locations. In this way, they can more easily learn the proper application of these concepts to their own type of genealogical research.

Melanie D. Holtz, CG, is a Board-certified genealogist, writer, and lecturer. She operates an international research firm that specializes in Italian genealogical research, Italian-American dual citizenship, and Italian-American probate cases. Melanie maintains offices in both Italy and the U.S.

To register for Melanie D. Holtz, CG, “Applying the Standards to International Research” on 20 October 2015, 8:00 p.m. EDT (7:00 CDT, 6:00 MDT, 5:00 PDT): https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7525305339610306562.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Attendance is limited for this free webinar. Once registered, please sign in early to avoid disappointment.

Please visit SpringBoard‘s webinar page to learn about BCG’s previous webinars.

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer, are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by Board-certified genealogists after periodic competency evaluation, and the board name is registered in the US Patent & Trademark Office.