Starting your Italian Research Journey

Anglers Rest

Starting Italian Research JourneyFor those who read my recent post on the Legacy Family Tree blog I have published a second post which looks tips and hints for researching in Italy.

You can read Starting Your Italian Research Journey over on the Legacy blog.

The first part, Pathway to my Sicilian Heritage is also available at the Legacy blog.

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Pathway to My Sicilian Heritage

Anglers Rest

My post, Pathway to my Sicilian Heritage was published on the Legacy blog a little earlier this week. You can read it HERE

The idea for the image came from fellow genealogical blogger, Miriam Robbins in the US  who writes at AnceStories: The Stories of my Ancestors and thought it was a great way to illustrate some of my Sicilian surnames, all of which are relevant to Sutera the predominant location for my Sicilian families, although a number did leave Sicily for the United States, more on that another time.

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Legacy Family Tree Webinars

The folks at Legacy Family Tree Webinars have extended their 50% off sale until 20 August 2017. A subscription means that you can watch any of the more than 500 webinars in their library. This includes Tracing European Ancestors

Membership to Legacy Webinars also means that you can access the comprehensive syllabus that I created to accompany the webinar.
European Ancestors

What are you waiting for?


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Free Access to Legacy Webinars 14-16 April!

As a way of celebrating the 500th Webinar from Legacy Family Tree, they are opening the doors and allowing FREE access to all this Friday, 14th April through until Sunday 16th April 2017. To hear how Legacy Webinars got started click HERE

This is an opportunity to hear my Legacy presentation from December 2016 which can be found at

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Article – Digging up Family Roots in Sicily by Russell Shorto

Picture taken from the New York Times. The article by Russell Shorto who holds the Copyright.

A fascinating account of researching roots in Sicily.

The article, by Russell Shorto, a journalist from the New York Times published in the travel section on 16th August 2013.

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Researching in Lithuania

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Lithuania gained its independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990. Lithuania has a population of around 3 million people. The official language is Lithuanian, but also spoken is Polish and Russian.

Records of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania between 1765 and 1784 were written in Polish before the second partition of Poland, and records written after 1782 in Russian.

In order to search for genealogical records it is necessary to write to the archives and request a search:

Lithuanian State Historical Archives, Gerosios Vilties 10, Vilnius 2009, Lithuania

The State Historical Archives holds vital records prior to 1940. You need to send the details of your family and their town in a letter accompanied by a money draft in US Dollars to the value of $100. An acknowledgement will be sent,but it can take a year before you receive the information you are seeking and in some cases longer. Records checked will be for the city of Vilnius only with other material likely to be held at archives in Belarus or Kaunas.

Around 500,000 Jewish records were filmed by the Church of Latter Day Saints.


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Regions of Italy

Map and region details is shared here, courtesy of the Family Search Italy pages

Italy is divided into 20 regions. Those marked with * indicate they have a degree of autonomy and can enable legislation at a local level. The Country is broken down further into 109 provinces and 8,101 municipalities.italian_regions_provinces_white_no_labels-svg

  1. Abruzzo
  2. Aosta Valley *
  3. Apulia (Puglia)
  4. Basilicata
  5. Calabria
  6. Campania
  7. Emilia-Romagna
  8. Friuli-Venezia Giulia *
  9. Lazio
  10. Liguria
  11. Lombardy (Lombardia)
  12. Marche
  13. Molise
  14. Piedmont (Piemonte)
  15. Sardinia (Sardegna)
  16. Sicily (Sicilia) *
  17. Trentino-Alto Adige *
  18. Tuscany (Toscana)
  19. Umbria
  20. Veneto


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European Ancestors – Legacy Webinar Series

logoLast Friday evening I presented to a number of genealogists the latest presentation of Tracing European Ancestors. The webinar can be accessed via this link free of charge for seven days. Alternatively it is available, as is the syllabus to subscribers and those who wish to purchase the recording.

A number of genealogists wrote to me following the presentation which is always lovely; and I am still working through those emails. If you emailed me then you should hear back in the next few days.

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Sicilian Heritage – The Reverse Immigrant by Alfred M. Zappala

004I have been following the adventures and activities of Alfred via his website  for about three years or so. It was then by absolute chance that I then saw an email by which he mentioned his second book and I was instantly intrigued. I had missed all references to an earlier book. I headed straight over to the web page to read all about them and to purchase a copy of the first book. I also wrote to Alfred to advise that I was planning, once purchased and read, to review his first book, before purchasing the second.

The Reverse Immigrant : Return to my Sicilian Roots was published by Alfred in 2010. It arrived with me across the pond and was promptly read over a day or so. I was impressed, both with writing style and publication quality. Having ordered from the website my copy arrived signed by the author.

The book was clearly written in instalments that have been pieced together; that is not a negative; the book reads like a series of conversations and is like spending time with an old friend.

There is a general mix of Alfred’s family, his parents and grandparents and memories of those who have shaped his life, his friends and business, together with his hopes and plans for the future. There is some history and general information of Sicily. There is also factual information and there are the chapters written with humour that made me smile and laugh. There is above all, a deep sense of love for his family, friends and his Sicilian heritage.

Alfred’s family history is by no means isolated. It is representative of what thousands of immigrants did. They left their native country with little more that the clothes on their backs and small change, to build a better life in another country. Thousands of Italians and Sicilians walked, yes walked, across their native Country to the coast where they boarded a boat to start their new life. Some walked further, and walked across France to the French coast and boarded boats to England. Some ran out of money and made their lives in England, some worked to earn the money to carry on to America and some went directly to America. Whatever their journey those men, women and children did that to build a better life for themselves and future generations. Having arrived into another country they not always treated well and lived a hard life, all the while thinking of the life and people they left behind, the traditions and values. It is those traditions and memories that have carried on and been passed down to descendants such as Alfred and it those details which appear in this book which is a reflection of the sacrifices made. It is those who are honoured.

I was in complete awe of Alfred’s plans; which you may have guessed from the title, is to return to his heritage home in Sicily from the United States. That is not an easy decision to make,even for part of a year, to leave your love ones in order to follow your dreams. I admire Alfred’s courage and the love he has for his family and heritage, as he completes a full circle.

The book details if you would like to purchase a copy are: The Reverse Immigrant : Return to my Sicilian Roots by Alfred Zappala Published 2010 ISBN – 1881901750 Available from  Alfred Zappala

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Spanish Surnames

In Spain children typically are given their first name followed by two surnames.

The first surname represents their father’s surname and the second represents their mother’s surname.

Since 1999, the gender equality laws have made a provision for some surname transposition and where parents are unable to agree the order of the surnames the decision is made by the official presiding over the birth registration.

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