POINT Chapter 15 Meeting - May 2013

POINTers In Person
Lou Costello Chapter 15

Northern New Jersey

Pursuing Our Italian Names Together

May 4, 2013


The Northern New Jersey chapter of POINTers In Person met on May 4, 2013 at the Elmwood Park Municipal Building.  Nineteen people attended.

Maria Carparelli (#2100) opened the meeting by informing the chapter about her plan for interested members to have another research trip to The New Jersey State Archives in Trenton.  Holdings from that archive date from 1664 to the present.  Also, she was hoping to plan a visit for our chapter to the Italian American Museum in lower Manhattan and the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, which is owned and operated by the Order of the Sons of Italy in America and is located in Staten Island, NY.  Maria also mentioned that the Passaic County Historical Society at Lambert Castle in Paterson, NJ has begun the Gaetano Federici Restoration and Exhibition Project.  Mr. Federici (1880-1964) was a native of Castelgrande, Italy and settled in the Paterson area.  His sculptures can be seen throughout Passaic County.  The Passaic County Historical Society will conserve and exhibit their collection of his original pieces and will raise funds for the needed conservation of twenty-one of his statues and plaques.  

Sue Berman (#4405) spoke about the genealogy courses offered at the Morris Plains Community Center and the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts in Madison, NJ.  Sue informed members that  Dr. Sandra Lee interviewed her mother, aunt and uncle and the videotape of this will be featured on YouTube. 

            Maryanne Graham (#3654) presented the treasurer’s report. The chapter has 30 active members. 

            Bob Stein gave the presentation, “Family Detective”.  His approach to family history research was to use the method of a detective.  He introduced his topic by reminding members that genealogy has been an endeavor pursued since ancient times and even made its appearance in Egyptian tombs as well as in the Bible. 

            This method begins by defining the case.  The researcher must decide the area of investigation, including a focus on an individual or on a specific branch of the family.  Gather everything you already know about the family, no matter how seemingly insignificant.  The location and dates of every life event, names, occupations, religions, etc. must all be documented before the real search begins. 

            A case folder/binder needs to be put to together in order to compile and record names, places, dates and activities.  Everything should be written down and one should keep in mind that a tape recorder is often very useful for interviews.  Don’t leave anything to memory.  Record everything.  Document each source since conflicting data might appear and would need to be later evaluated.  It’s best to compile all data about yourself first. 

            Next the scene needs to be investigated.  Search for family documents in attics, basements, trunks, closets, desks, filing cabinets, safe deposit boxes, etc.  Review the family documents found including bibles, vital records, wedding licenses, business licenses, diplomas, Social Security cards, Naturalization certificates, funeral home and cemetery receipts, funeral prayer cards, wills, passports, address books, letters and photos.  Visit or contact cemeteries, religious places of worship, funeral homes, schools, relatives, family friends and ancestral home towns. 

            Then interview witnesses by talking to elderly family members and those who might have done their own research or who might be the caretaker of family items.  Offer some information to jog their memories and have the witnesses corroborate the evidence.  Remember that not all memories are perfect and thus you must check out every story.           

Background checks can now be accomplished by using databases available on the Internet including those from companies which focus on genealogy.  National, State and city archives, the Department of Health, the Social Security Administration, etc. also might make their databases (including vital records, and court records) available to the public if privacy issues are not compromised.  However, indices of their records can often be found on the Internet at no cost.  Obtain copies of the complete original documents, since this is crucial for authentic background verification.  Also, Federal and State censuses, city directories, property records, tax rolls, burial records, sacramental records and telephone directories provide essential data, although some of these are not primary documents.  Visit places which might hold these records: the local LDS Family History Centers, public libraries, courthouses, municipal buildings, newspaper archives, local historical and genealogical society libraries and archives. 

            DNA tests are a newer scientific method a researcher might use.  Mr. Stein gave members an explanation of the usefulness of certain DNA tests.  Male DNA passes from father to son and, therefore, the father and close male relatives can be verified.  Slight changes occur every few generations.  This creates a unique family group.  Female DNA is passed from mother to son and daughter and it stays stable for centuries.  Autosomal DNA, consisting of a combination of both parents’ and grandparents’ DNA through five generations, is individually unique and is used to identify an individual and to alert for health risks.  Autosomal DNA is also used to determine ethnic origin and bio-geographical spread. 

            The case notes then need to be organized, using standard forms and charts and the family records stored in acid-free folders or binders.  Also, all information can be loaded into genealogy software.  Computer programs can be used to organize evidence, analyze results, generate family trees, plan research, write histories, search online and suggest future sources.  

            Finally, the evidence is presented to family members and genealogical and historical society libraries in book form or uploaded to a web site.  

            Future meetings will be held on:  August 3, 2013

                                                            November 2, 2013

                                                            February 1, 2014

                                                            May 3, 2014

                                                            August 2, 2014 


Next Meeting

E-mail POINTers Chapter 15