Chapter 15 - Mtg. Nov. 1, 1997

POINTers In Person
Chapter 15
Northern New Jersey

P.O. Box 636
Totowa, New Jersey

Pursuing Our Italian Names Together

November 1, 1997

Albert Marotta (#1018)
Our POINTers In Person opened its second year of fraternity, friendship, learning and discovering our roots together with our meeting on Nov. 1 at the Housing Authority Community Room in Garfield, NJ. Nineteen people attended, representing at least five counties in northern NJ.

 Annita Zalenski (#39) opened the meeting by distributing an information sheet about POINT, PIP, and PIE. Annita mentioned that seventeen people from our PIP group met at Ellis Island in September. Although there was no group tour, the Italian Immigration Exhibit was enjoyed by all, as were two one-act plays featuring the sinking of the Titanic and the Immigrant Experience.

 Lillian Papas (#2727), our treasurer, spoke about our chapter's finances. The money collected is set aside for refreshments and postage. We are in the process of fine-tuning our finances and perhaps restructuring our chapter. Presently, we have 47 people on our mailing list who had said that they were interested in POINT, PIP or Italian genealogy. However, only about half of these come to our meetings. Unfortunately, the rest don't contribute to our funds or to our pool of ideas and knowledge. As you know, postage rates are increasing and we would like those people who are truly interested to join us.

Our guest speaker was June De Lalio, a genealogist and founder of the Italian Genealogical Group, located in Bethpage, Long Island, NY. She gave an excellent presentation on Italian Civil Vital Records of the 19th and early 20th centuries. We were shown copies of original birth, marriage, and death registrations, covering the years 1827-1909 from towns in northern and southern Italy. June provided handouts which included translations of these civil documents. Among other interesting tidbits, we learned that northern Italian civil records were completely handwritten while southern Italian records used printed forms. The same information appeared on both, but the forms used in southern Italy made for much easier reading. Also we were shown how to distinguish between the date when the vital event occurred and when it was recorded. Another important point to remember - - not only did provincial boundaries change, so did the names of the provinces (especially around 1865). It might be wise to check under both new and old names, particularly when using indices. We were reminded that in most cases it is easier to locate and copy Italian civil records here in the U.S. (especially through the LDS) than at municipal and archival offices in Italy, where it is often impossible to photocopy an original legal document.

 A very interesting discussion was sparked by a question posed by Sal Lagattuta. He wanted to learn more about researching proietti (orphans) and abandoned children and the records kept by foundling homes. Many of these homes were under Church influence. It might be difficult for us who see Italy as a family-oriented nation to realize, but in the 19th century as many as 40% of children in some districts were abandoned for various reasons. They were usually left on the doorstep of a church, hospital, or convent. The large percentage of proietti suggests that many families we are researching might have been affected, making research even more difficult.

Our next chapter meeting is scheduled for Saturday, February 7 at 10 AM at the Housing Authority Community Room in Garfield, NJ. This meeting will be a workshop and we will discuss restructuring our PIP, bylaws, officers, etc. All are welcome to attend.

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