POINT Chapter 15 Meeting - November 6, 1999

POINTers In Person
Chapter 15
Northern New Jersey

P.O. Box 636
Totowa, New Jersey

Pursuing Our Italian Names Together

November 6, 1999

Albert Marotta (#1018)
Our POINTers in Person chapter held our last meeting of the century at the Housing Authority Community Room in Garfield, NJ on November 6, 1999. Twenty-nine people attended, including three people from Rockland County, NY. Loretta Tito and her small group, "Rockland Women Promoting Italian Culture", seemed interested in the goals of our organization.

Annita Zalenski (#39) opened the meeting by reminding us about the POINT 2000 Conference in Texas and handed out the application for this event. She mentioned that the Italian Genealogical Group was sponsoring a one-day seminar, "Tracing Italian Roots in the Millennium" at Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) in March 2000. Giulio Salemme will be the featured speaker. At least eight people from our group were interested and hoped to attend. Annita also alerted us that the Family History Library Catalog can now be accessed via the internet (www.familysearch.org/). Also, it was mentioned that Newark, NJ was featuring various events of interest. "Nevarca: A Celebration of the Italian Experience in Newark" is keyed to the 100th anniversary of the Feast of St. Gerard at St. Lucy's Church and the centennial celebration of the Italian parish of St. Rocco's in Newark. Also the Newark Public Library is exhibiting, "Saluti da Nevarca", a comprehensive collection of photographs, ephemera and artifacts documenting life in Newark's once vibrant Italian neighborhoods (October 4-December 31, 1999). The parishes of St. Lucy's and St. Rocco's were formed originally by immigrants from Naples, Benevento, Caserta, Salerno and Avellino.

Lillian Pappas (#2717) presented the treasurer's report and told us that we now have 43 paid members

Bob Scussel (#2437)was delighted to share with us a discovery he made which might help researchers locate surnames in Italy. It can be reached via the internet (www.labo.net/). The map will show the frequency and regions in which your surname can be found in Italy today. It also shows the number of "comuni" in which your name appears.

Maryjane Proctor told us that records from the Province of Salerno have finally been microfilmed by the LDS and that she was ordering the films for her town of Sassano. However, our recording secretary has found that, as of this date, only 36 towns (our of about 129) for the Province of Salerno have been microfilmed. It seems that the first priority for the LDS is to microfilm civil records at all Italian State Archives, which includes civil registers up to 1865. Later, they plan to microfilm civil registers from 1865-1910.

Anthony Barrale, a member of our chapter, gave his presentation, "The Mass Migration of Italians 1880-1924." This presentation ws tape-recorded for his brother, Peter Barrale (#104), of California. His social history was interspersed with his impressions and memories of growing up in the Italian neighborhood in Garfield, NJ. Also, Anthony's experiences and stories about his time in the Navy during World War II in Sicily, gave insight about the era. Anthony focused on the Mezzogiorno, the area south of Rome, since 80% of those who migrated came from there for purpose of economic survival. The isolation of many of the villages in the south, kept them poor. Among the causes of isolation were poor roads and lack of communication between villages, which kept the peasants ignorant. The lack of good water in the south, together with disease, crop failure, earthquiakes, tidal waves and cheaper competition from US mining companies, among many other situations help spark mass immigration. Garibaldi was seen as a true hero here.

We were reminded that ancestral proverbs were often the only education peasants received. Frequently, one would hear life's lessons in a nutshell. "The person that knows how to live in proverty, knows everything." Yet, the difficult experiences of the Italians throughout the ages, helped build a better America and influenced many policies, which later became enshrined as foundations for American democracy.

Our next PIP meeting is scheduled for Saturday, February 5, 2000  at 10 A.M. at the same location. We hope to have a representative from the Seton Hall University Library, Valente Room, talk about the library's Italian collection.

Future meetings will be held:
May 6, 2000
August 5, 2000
November 5, 2000

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