POINT Chapter 15 Meeting - November 6, 2010

POINTers In Person
Lou Costello Chapter 15

Northern New Jersey

Pursuing Our Italian Names Together
May 7, 2011


The Northern New Jersey chapter of POINTers In Person met on May 7, 2011 at the Elmwood Park Municipal Building.  Eighteen people attended.  The chapter’s February meeting was canceled due to an impending snowstorm.

Maria Carparelli (#2100) opened the meeting by introducing Dave D’Arco, the president of the Passaic-Clifton Chapter of UNICO National.  This chapter is the second oldest in NJ.  UNICO stands for “Unity, Neighborliness, Integrity, Charity and Opportunity”. Dave invited us to join UNICO and briefly explained some of the many benefits that group bestows primarily on descendents of Italian immigrants (but sometimes on deserving non-Italians), such as scholarships.  Annita Zalenski (#39) said that she was grateful and surprised when her daughter was awarded a UNICO scholarship many years ago.  Marie Androski mentioned that UNICO sponsored the Italian Club (for materials, field trips, etc) at Ramsey High School in Bergen County, which was being discontinued due to school budget cuts.  UNICO will fund the club for years ahead.  There are over 300 chapters in the U.S.

 Maria alerted the chapter that the Italian American Museum was presenting, “Keeper of the Flame”.  Joe Infosino (#4718) asked if anyone had read “Behind the Store: Stories of a First- Generation Italian American Childhood” by Vincent Romeo, a memoir advertised in the New Yorker.
Maryanne Graham (#3654) presented the treasurer’s report.  The chapter has 45 active members. Annual dues were collected.  Maryanne also suggested a possible research trip for our chapter to the NJ State Archive in Trenton and a sign-up list was provided.

It was mentioned that on March 17, Italy celebrated its 150th anniversary as the unified and independent Republic of Italy.  President G. Napolitano laid a laurel wreath at the foot of the monument to Girabaldi’s Thousand in Reggio Emilia.  Similar events took place in Torino, Bologna and Rome.  Torino was the center of the 150th anniversary celebration because this city was the first capital of the new republic and it was here that the first Italian Parliament was held and where Vittorio Emmanuele II was named Italy’s first king.  In 1861, Rome was not yet part of the newly-unified Italy.

Sue Berman (#4405) shared with the chapter a success story.  A photo exhibit hosted by Dr. Sandra Lee included a number of old photographs from Sue’s family collection.  Dr. Lee posted on her Facebook page a photo of exhibition goers viewing one of Sue’s photos.  A woman browsing through Dr. Lee’s Facebook page saw this exhibition picture and recognized one of the women in Sue’s photo to be her own great-great grandmother.  Thus a connection was made.

Vivian Samaro alerted members to a petition from UNICO concerning requested approval of House Resolution #1705, “Italian and Italian American Heritage Month”.  It expresses support for federal designation of the month of October as Italian and Italian American Heritage Month.  Currently, this resolution has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  New Jersey has already done this.
Tony Lauriano presented “Navigating Key Genealogy Websites” with the help of his son.  His family first settled in the “Little Italy” section of East Harlem from Alcamo (Province of Trapani) in Sicily.

Mr. Lauriano reminded members that the first brick wall encountered when researching one’s Italian family is the spelling of the surname.  Identifying surnames in records can be difficult due to name changes and other variations, making essential the use of the SOUNDEX system.  The website myheritage.com, which incorporates the SOUNDEX system into its database, can help in this matter.  Among the numerous valuable websites Mr. Lauriano featured in his talk was ancestry.com, one of the largest fee-based online companies whose genealogical databases include actual images of the U.S. Census, City Directories, passenger ship manifests, military registrations and so much more.

Italiangen.org is another important website which has information on naturalization papers and vital records, especially indices for New York City and Long Island.  This is useful since prior to 1906-1907 the immigrant could go to any court to apply for his Declaration of Intention.  However after 1907, the application was made at a U.S. Federal Court.

Another useful website is ssdi.rootsweb.com, which contains birth and death dates for anyone who died after 1962 and collected Social security payments.  Familysearch.org (of the LDS) has ship manifests and vital records, etc.  Archives.gov (of the U.S. National Archives) has information on the U.S. Census, Ship manifests, naturalization papers and Military Records.  Castlegarden.org features passenger ship records (1820-1892) while ellisisland.org has those records from 1892 to 1924.  Cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm will show the researcher where to write for any state vital record.

Finally, Mr. Lauriano spoke about “websites of websites”.  This included Cyndi Howell’s cyndislist.com, which shows the researcher which websites might be useful for a particular request.  Stevemorse.org lists genealogy websites and gives nationality information, but is best known for its excellent Ellis Island database.  The USGenWeb Project (usgenweb.org) is a volunteer-provider of free genealogical websites for genealogical research in every county and state in the U.S.

Please note that these genealogical websites are far from exhaustive.

 Future meetings will be held on:
     August 6, 2011
     November 5, 2011
     February 4, 2012
     May 5, 2012

 For details, see our website: https://sites.rootsweb.com/~njpoint/


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