POINT Chapter 15 Meeting - November 1, 2003

POINTers In Person
Chapter 15
Northern New Jersey

P.O. Box 636
Totowa, New Jersey

Pursuing Our Italian Names Together

November 1, 2003

Albert Marotta (#1018)

The Northern New Jersey chapter of POINTers In Person  met on November 1, 2003 at the Elmwood Park Municipal Building.  Thirty-one people attended, including seven new faces.

Annita Zalenski (#39) opened the meeting by informing the chapter about the death of
Dolores Galofaro in October.  She and her husband, Anthony, have been active and helpful members of our chapter since 1999.  We will miss her.  May she rest in peace.

Annita also alerted members to a New York Post Columbus Day feature article of October 9, 2003 entitled, Going Back to your Roots.  This article interviewed three of our members, Annita, Maria Carparelli (#2100) and Susan Laurita (#4405) at Ellis Island.  Then Annita told members about the Joseph and Elda Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America at Montclair State University.  The purpose of this new institute will be to create a nationally recognized center for excellence that will encourage, promote, assist and support the acquisition and propagation of knowledge concerning Italian language and Italian and Italian-American history, culture and heritage.  For details see: http://chssfp.montclair.edu/cocciainstitute/mission.htm .  Annita concluded her remarks by making members aware that the chapter’s by-laws need to be updated.  A committee consisting of Annita,
Maria Carparelli, Maryanne Graham (#3654), Geri Mola, and Al Marotta (#1018) will review the by-laws.

Al Marotta (#1018) mentioned that the 104th Feast of St. Gerard at St. Lucy’s (Italian) Church in Newark, NJ was held October 16-19 and was the most successful ever.  Fifty-one buses from many states transformed this once local feast for immigrants from the Province of Avellino into a regional one.  St. Lucy’s Church has been designated the National Shrine of St. Gerard Majella (1725-1755).
The processions through the streets of the former “Little Italy” neighborhood are most memorable.

Loretta Tito (#4717) learned some interesting Italian social history and shared it with the chapter.  She told members that Lady Elena Lucretia Cornaro-Piscopia (who was born in Venice in 1646) was the first woman in the world to earn a doctorate degree.  Lady Cornaro received her doctorate from the University of Padua in 1678.

Maryanne Graham (#3654)  presented the treasurer’s report.  The chapter has 93 members;
62 of them have kept their dues current.

June Delalio (#1181) gave a presentation on Italian Marriage Records.  She is a Board Certified Genealogist specializing in the field of Italian family history and is the founder and past president of the Italian Genealogical Group.  June supplemented her informative talk with numerous copies of a variety of Italian Records useful for researching marriages.  She focused on the records of southern Italy and Sicily.  June reminded members that marriages in Italy were basically business contracts between two families.  Sometimes businesses and whole towns were involved, since land often changed ownership due to a marriage.  Soon after birth and certainly by the teenage years, marriages were being planned by the family.  Dowries were essential, even for poor families.  Marriages might be delayed if a girl’s family did not have enough dowry or if the family of the intended male didn’t want to give up property.  Some girls were sent to convents for a lower dowry.

Civil Registration began in Southern Italy under the government installed by Napoleon in 1806.  Before 1809 registration was done by the Church.  Civil Registration was discontinued in 1815 when the Napoleonic Government ended.  However, the Kingdom of Naples (under the Bourbon government), Toscana and Abruzzo continued these records.  Piemonte began keeping records again in 1839.  Parish priests took over the recording of civil registration in Lombardia and areas under Austrian rule.  Sicily began recording in 1820, using Napoleonic record format.  However, since Italy was not a unified country until 1866, civil authorities did not record in a consistent manner, if at all, from the end of the Napoleonic era until 1866.

After 1809, Napoleonic law required marriage to be performed first by civil authorities and then, if the couple wished, by the Church.  Some couples believed the Church marriage to be more vital than the civil.  Thus some marriages were recorded much later by the State, when after a Church wedding, parents found it legally necessary for a child to be recognized as legitimate (for education purposes, etc.) and then a civil service (creating the only “official” record) was performed.

 Marriage Banns and Marriage Records, together with Allegati, are of great interest to the genealogist.   Marriage Banns announce the couple’s intent to marry.  They were posted in the churches and town halls. These records are essential to a researcher, if the marriage records are unavailable or have been destroyed.  The LDS has microfilmed these records.  Marriage Banns records often include the Pubblicazioni (posted in the woman’s town), the Notificazioni (posted in the man’s town, if different) and memorandum.  Also included are supporting documents, such as records attached to prove births and parents’ births and deaths and those of earlier generations, when necessary, and the names of former spouses and death dates.

 If the father was dead (and couldn’t approve of the marriage), the prospective bride/groom had to prove he was dead by presenting his death record.  If the father died after 1808, the death record was obtained from civil authorities.  If he died before 1809, the record was obtained from the Church.  If the father had died, there was the need for the paternal grandfather’s consent.  If the grandfather had died, an attached death record was needed to prove it.  This information is a treasure since records before 1809 are difficult to obtain, yet here they will be collected in one place.  Allegati (enclosures) often include records of these deaths, as well as the publication of marriage banns, citizenship records, supplements, dispensations, birth and marriage records.  Diversi (miscellaneous documents) sometimes are also attached.  When a marriage was being arranged by a civil authority, all supporting documents (birth and death certificates, etc.) were collected and placed into a special volume known as Processetti.  The terms Allegati and Processetti are often used interchangeably.  These records have been microfilmed by the LDS.

 Marriage Records include Certificates, Extracts and Marriage Registers (bound in books and kept in the civil office).  These records usually reveal the date of marriage, names of bride and groom, whether single or widowed, and witnesses.  Sometimes included are age, birthplace, residence, occupation, name of person giving consent, names of parents, and date of church ceremony.  The LDS  has also microfilmed these records.  Divorce wasn’t legal in Italy until 1970.  These records cannot be found at the LDS.

 Future meetings will be held on:
                      February 7, 2004
                      May 1, 2004
                      August 7, 2004
                      November 6, 2004

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