POINT Chapter 15 Meeting - February 7, 2004
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POINTers In Person
Chapter 15
Northern New Jersey

P.O. Box 636
Totowa, New Jersey



Pursuing Our Italian Names Together

February 7, 2004

 
Albert Marotta (#1018)

The Northern New Jersey chapter of POINTers In Person met on February 7, 2004 at the Elmwood Park Municipal Building.  Thirty-five people attended, including four new faces.

Annita Zalenski (#39) opened the meeting by informing the chapter about the death of
Joseph Iarossi in December.  He was a member of our chapter since 2002.

Annita mentioned that the 2004 POINT National Conference will take place in Kansas City, MO October 7-9, 2004 and that the Los Angeles chapter of POINT was interested in hosting the POINT National Conference in 2006.  She reminded members that the Bylaws Committee will update the bylaws during the next meeting in May.  A Nominating Committee was appointed.  They will nominate the chapterís future officers.

Maryanne Graham (#3654) presented the treasurerís report.  The chapter has 95 members;
65 of them have kept their dues current.  Maryanne told members about our chapterís fundraising efforts, which included the selling of PIP mugs and tote bags.

Geri Mola asked members whether there was an interest in having a small Italian reference library, which might travel with us.  It was noted that we already have reference research handouts at all the meetings and if people wanted to donate any items to this, they could.

Albert Zani (#1479) gave an enthusiastic and informative presentation titled The Trentino:
Its History, Culture and Genealogy.  He is researching a branch of his family from the towns of Amblar, Cavareno and Fondo, all in the province of Trento.  Meanwhile, Annita, the only member of our chapter with ancestors from this region, has found family connected to twenty towns in the Province of Trento and four towns in the Province of Bolzano.

The Trentino-Alto Adige region (also known as South Tyrol) comprises the provinces of Bolzano-Bozen in the north and Trento in the south.  This region is located in northeastern Italy, and is bordered by Switzerland to the northwest, Austria to the northeast, the region of Lombardia to the southwest and the region of Veneto to the southeast.  The population of Bolzano (the capital of Alto Adige) is largely German-speaking while that of Trento (the capital of Trentino) is Italian-speaking.  Dialects of these two languages, together with the language of Ladin, are spoken in this region.  Most of the area is mountainous terrain above 3,000 feet and includes the Alps to the north and west and the Dolomites to the east.  Adige is the main river.

The citizens of the region were given Roman citizenship in A.D. 46.  Emperors gave bishops the authority to run these provinces from 1027-1806.  These bishops acted as both the civil and church authority.

The ecclesiastical principalities of Trento and Bressanone were later contested by the counts of Tyrol and Venice.  The Church Council of Trent (1543-1563) made the region a gateway between the north and the south.

The region was under Austrian rule (1363-1918) until the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 and it became part of Italy.  However, between 1810 and 1813 it briefly became part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.  This area was known as Venetia Tridentina until 1947, when it passed to Italy after World War I, and was established as one of Italyís five special autonomous regions by Italyís 1948 Constitution.  Special autonomy, along with corresponding powers, was granted to this region due to its unique cultural, linguistic, social or economic characteristics.  Thus, it was permitted decision-making on local issues.

Emigration from this region, from the 17th Ė 19th centuries, consisted of itinerant peddlers, knife-grinders (from Val Rendena), religious print makers (from Alto Adige), railroad workers and domestics.  Due to the failure of the silk industry, from 1870-1914, many left for Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and the U.S.  Between 1919 and 1930 many came to the U.S. and settled in New York, Pennsylvania (Hazelton), Wisconsin (Giles) and Wyoming (Trinidad).  Finally, those from this area settled in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Western Europe between 1945 and 1970.

Although this region has a complex history, researching local family records often gives more satisfaction than research from other areas of Italy because of excellent, detailed documents.  These documents used Bavarian organization in the forms.  Since the region was originally ruled by a bishop rather than a lord, there was no distinction between Church and civil records and thus many are found from the 1580s.  Parishes often included a ďMother ChurchĒ where all records of baptisms and some marriage and death records would be kept.  Records were handwritten and in Latin until 1803 when religious records ceased to be civil records.  Birth Records start about 1585 and baptismal records are available until 1803.  Birth Records often reveal  date of birth and baptism, the personís name, midwifeís name, motherís maiden name, fatherís and grandparentsí names, godparentsí names, etc. Marriage Records date from about 1585, while Death Records start about 1650. Each family in the region has a sopranomi (nickname), since there are often three or four branches of the family in the same town.  It is important to know this name.  Albert gave members many examples of surnames that donít look Italian.  Many of these names are in dialect, German or in hybrid form.  He told the chapter that Italian naming traditions donít seem to exist, at least for his family, in this region.  However, this might be an exception.

 Sal Lagattuta (#3352) reminded members that this region is also known for the 1991 discovery of
the iceman, the frozen and preserved remains of a man who was killed while walking the Tyrolean Alps about 3,300 B.C.  It is the best preserved prehistoric corpse ever found.  The ridge where the body was discovered lies along the current border between Austria and Italy.  Although authorities in both countries agreed the find was made in Austria, it was also decided that South Tyrol would have ownership.  The body is now at the archaeology museum in Bolzano.

            Future meetings will be held on:
                      May 1, 2004
                      August 7, 2004
                      November 6, 2004
                      February 5, 2005

 
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