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Why did your Italian ancestor have five cousins all named Joe? Why did married women travel under their maiden names? Was Sally really Serafina? This presentation explores the factors that pushed and pulled Italians to emigrate, what they found when they arrived, Italian naming patterns and name changes, and how to start your search. Knowing what their life was like in Italy helps us to understand their choices and behavior when they emigrated: why they were slow to naturalize, why the family was the most important institution, and why food was a source of celebration.

Presenter: Named for her grandmothers and inspired by her mother’s phenomenal memory, Margaret R. Fortier, CG®, is a Boston-based genealogical researcher, lecturer, and writer. Her research focuses on Italian, Irish, French-Canadian, and Portuguese immigrants. She holds an MS in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University. She serves on the board of the Association of Professional Genealogists and will be a Co-Editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly beginning in 2023.

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