Past Lecture Topics
Sex, DNA and Family History
Abstract: Genetic genealogy, the use of DNA for defining ancestral relationships, is a new tool for family historians when historical documentation is unclear or unavailable. This lecture describes what DNA in genealogy can and cannot do for your family history. I briefly discuss what DNA is, how y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA differ and are transmitted, and how this process allows us to see into the past. I describe how pedigrees and descendency charts can identify who should be tested, and what questions can be answered by the use of DNA technology. I use hypothetical pedigree charts and descendency charts to demonstrate a specific methodology to define questions, find candidates and design hypotheses that can be tested using DNA and genetic genealogy.
Which Autosomal DNA Test is Right for YOU?
Abstract: Genetic genealogy, the use of DNA for defining ancestral relationships, is a new tool for family historians when historical documentation is unclear or unavailable. This lecture describes what autosomal DNA testing in genealogy can and cannot do for your family history and what it can tell you about your origins. I briefly discuss what DNA is, how traditional DNA tests differ from autosomal testing, and how this process allows us to see into the past. I describe some of the available tests, the companies that provide them and suggest methodologies to use autosomal tests to answer questions that cannot be answered using Y-DNA and mtDNA testing.
GPS for Genealogy: Another Kind of Navigation
Abstract: Genealogists know that finding proof of some relationships can be easy, but some problems may be more complex What do you do when evidence conflicts, doesn’t exist or points in different directions? Apply the Genealogical Proof Standard. This lecture will define the 5 steps of the GPS and show a case study of a complex problem that was solved with research, creativity, attention to detail and a defined process. See how the process was applied to a Civil War soldier who shaved 10 years off his age and complicated the search for his parents.
Introduction to Italian Genealogy
Abstract: The hometown of our Italian immigrant ancestors is needed to find original records in Italy. But what if we don’t know the paese? This lecture describes a variety of proven methods for using home sources, census records, naturalization records and other documents that can be found here in the U.S. to determine the hometown of our Italian ancestors.
Into Italy: Using Italian Records
Abstract: After identifying your ancestor’s paese in Italy, there are still as wealth of genealogical materials to expand your family history. This lecture provides guidelines for what records are available in Italy and how to access the records either via correspondence or through microfilms at a local Family History Center. I discuss civil records such as birth, marriage and death records kept by the state, church records related to baptisms, marriages and I stati di anime, and military records. Each of these sources can expand your genealogy farther back in time, and add significant details about your ancestors lives in the old country.
Finding Passenger Lists for Italian Immigrants
Abstract: One of the most exciting moments for genealogists is to see their Italian ancestors name on a ship’s passenger list. This lecture gives an overview of the online databases of passenger list images that are available for Italian researchers, as well as the difficulties associated with their use. In this introductory lecture, I discuss the value of finding passenger lists, and what can be learned from them to enhance your family history research. Using specific examples, I describe the various indexes to passenger lists, and how to get the most out of the Ellis Island, Castle Garden, and Ancestry websites. I also provide specific search strategies to overcome difficulties in finding elusive ancestors’ ship’s passenger lists.
Clusters and Chains for Italian Immigrants
Abstract: This lecture describes Italian immigration patterns, the “paths” immigrants took, and how cluster genealogy and chain migration studies can help family historians find hometowns in Italy, connect to cousins in the old country and enhance family history research. I will discuss the history of Italy and the patterns of Italian immigration, as well as some immigrant experiences. I will present a case study of two “villages”, one in Italy, and one in Rhode Island and how the use of cluster genealogy distinguished between two men of the same name and illuminated the extended family and neighbors that followed a pattern of chain migration from the old country to “La Merica.”
Conserving our Personal Collections
Abstract: Each of us has invaluable “home sources” that are precious memories of our family’s history. Photos, documents, military medals, textiles and all manner of materials are tucked away in drawers and closets. But are we doing enough to protect these unique items from the effects of time and unpredictable natural disasters? In this lecture, I describe methods for organizing, protecting and preparing our irreplaceable family memorabilia and photos. We will discuss archival products, back-ups and general conservation and organization techniques used by some of the best museums and archives in the world, because our families and family materials deserve to br preserved.
Organizing our Genealogical Research
Abstract: If one thing is certain about genealogy and genealogists, the only thing we collect more of than ancestors, is paper! What do we do with it all? How can we find what we need, when we need it? Documents, printouts, books, maps, CDs and photos are all essential to our research. In this lecture, I describe a variety of methods for organizing the various types of materials generated by family history research. We will discuss different organization systems and why “file it, don’t pile it!” should be every genealogist’s mantra.
My Grandmother was a Fascist
Abstract: Alien Registration Files for our non-naturalized Italian ancestors can provide valuable genealogical information, if you know where to look, and how to access them. This lecture describes the rise of fascism within Italian-American communities prior to World War II, the Smith Act and the information found in Alien Registration Files.