Where I’m Speaking Next Week

Next week I am giving a lecture about Italian genealogy basics at the Wilmington Memorial Library in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

Registration is required to attend this event; seats may be reserved at this link:



My Upcoming Lecture on Italian Genealogy

Peabody Institute Library in Danvers, Mass.

I will be speaking on the topic of Italian Genealogy Research at the Peabody Institute Library of Danvers, Massachusetts next week.

Registration for my lecture is available at the following link: http://www.eventkeeper.com/mars/xpages/xp_newpopevent.cfm?zeeOrg=DANVERS&EventID=5490412&sw=1366

NEW Italian Genealogy Records Online for Palermo and Chieti, Italy

Today, FamilySearch.org–the Internet’s largest library of *free* global genealogy images and searchable records, announced two exciting new additions to their web site for Italian American genealogy researchers:

  1. A brand new collection of 4+ million searchable images of Palermo’s government birth, death, and marriage records for the years 1820-1947 (to browse the images, visit this link: https://www.familysearch.org/collection/2608509)
  2. The addition of new images to their Chieti, Italy collection of government birth, death, and marriage records for the years 1809-1930, which now totals more than 3 million images (to browse the images, visit this link: https://www.familysearch.org/collection/2419833)

You might need a membership to view these images, but remember, as always: membership to FamilySearch is FREE. Thank you, FamilySearch, for your tireless, generous service to the genealogy community!

My Blurb in Italy Genealogy Travel Article

Me, studying baptismal records at the Diocesan Archive of Novarra, Italy

I am honored to have contributed to the article of a brave adventurer about his exciting Italy trip, written by author Matt Crossman for Thrillist. Matt invited me to share a bit of retrospective genealogy advice for his readers, which he featured alongside the research tips that he gleaned from personal experience as he trekked through Italy in search of his own ancestors and family. Note the pure poetry in the article’s Taylor Swift reference, because my advice therein can be summed up as a Taylor Swift paraphrase: “Create a blank space, baby, and they’ll write the names!”

Read the full article here: https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/find-family-ancestors-genealogy-sites/travel

Il 6 Maggio: Celebrating the Vatican’s Swiss Guard

Today, my family and I honored, along with the Vatican, the brave 147 Swiss soldiers who bravely gave their lives for the Holy See during the sack of Rome in 1527.

We did so by cooking up the swearing-in day dinner menu in the Vatican Cookbook of the Pontifical Swiss guard.

The Vatican has been importing papal guards from Switzerland since 1527, to show their gratitude for the bravery they showed in sacrificing those 147 lives (all lost!) that enabled their Pope to escape unharmed. Being Swiss myself (my maternal grandmother was 100% Appenzeller Swiss!), I feel a special connection to this history–especially because I am now such a gatekeeper to so many Italian Family histories.

I cooked up the book’s beef tenderloin roast as the main dish:

Then I made the Swiss guard’s asparagus pasta with parmesan cream sauce–it was DIVINE! My kids devoured this entire bowl by evening’s end:

And then for dessert, the cookbook has a special 6th of May treat–a vanilla bean bavarese yoghurt-custard with strawberry coulis that tastes better than cheesecake! I am bummed that I didn’t have any cute dessert dishes to photograph it in; this silly little Pyrex serving bowl looks ridiculous, lol

It was a sumptuous meal, and during dinner I had a great time teaching my children about the heroism of the good people of our motherland, and their connection to our fratelli and sorelle in Italia!! 🙂

My Personal Diversity Pledge

I recently had a conversation with a genealogy colleague whose subtle comment about a gay genealogist made me uncomfortable. I think they assumed that because my parents raised me in a church that denies gays the right to love and be loved, that I somehow agree with their dogma, but nothing could be further from the truth — and I politely made that clear. My gay loved ones are cherished beyond measure, and I personally believe that gays deserve to love and be loved, regardless of what the men who own churches shout from their pulpits. Protected populations are designated as such for a reason–because after centuries of horrific hate crimes, persecution, and discrimination, brave leaders are starting to take a stand to protect basic human rights. I believe that professional, credentialed genealogists should be held to the highest standard of commitment to diversity and inclusion in their speech about and treatment of people of all orientations, genders, races, and abilities, especially in genealogy circles. 

Although I belong to a career field where I encounter these kinds of obstacles to diversity and inclusion (don’t we all? Certain generations/populations are still learning to embrace diversity), I believe that influencers with credentials and/or who educate and mentor the rising generation of professionals in our field must lead out, showing everyone a better way by example. This can lead to more inclusive policies and more peaceful, harmonious institutions (and world!) for everyone.

I studied the code of ethics for the APG, BCG, and ICAPGen, where I earned my Accredited Genealogist® credential. None of these institutions mentions diversity or inclusion in their code of ethics, though they do mention not disparaging other genealogists. However, the comment made by my colleague didn’t technically disparage them as a professional or as a person; it was a subtle dig at the genealogist’s sexual orientation. The person was admired even as their orientation was shamed. Note the dilemma here, when none of our codes of ethics has any wording about this type of treatment of our fellow professionals? I have since decided that it is up to me to draft my own, personal standard of diversity and inclusion, and post it where others can see.

Here is what I have come up with so far, and have posted to my web site’s homepage:

diversity pledge

The section on repositories stems from the nine years I spent living in the rural south. There are actually government-funded historical societies (think: public library branches) that only curate historical records of white people (in counties that are predominantly black!), so while I lived there, I sometimes turned down research cases for certain counties and referred them to local researchers who did not find patronizing such establishments as abhorrent as I did. Also, I am somewhat leery of lineage societies, but with greater nods to diversity, they too can win me over one day in the future.

Recognition for LGBTQIA individuals is another issue very dear to my heart. There is so much I could say about this, but my pledge sums it up for me. I will further add: all the present-day focus on DNA and bloodlines (ie: journal articles requiring that authors include DNA evidence along with the paper trail), needs to draft policies allowing for inclusiveness of those who have chosen to recognize their legal family instead of their biological and still qualify for publication in our literature. For example, an article tracing two maternal lines (ie, the child of two gay mothers who prefers to identify with her adoptive parents) who chooses not to submit her DNA evidence because she chooses to identify with her legal and not biological ancestry.  If she is gay and wants to research legal family as a matter of principle, or if her gay parents choose to identify with their legal and not biological parentage (due to adoption, foster care, disowning, etc), they should not be required to submit DNA results in order to publish, either. As long as the research is sound and performed according to standard, editors should not exclude such researchers from publication, simply because they choose not to furnish DNA evidence. Editorial exclusions based on DNA evidence requirements and antiquated gendered numbering systems in our publications might exclude LGBTQIA researchers from participating and publishing.

Because genealogists are renowned for researching and recording the life stories of little-known deceased individuals cast aside by other disciplines, we genealogists should be equally renowned for inclusiveness and embracing diversity among the living. We are, after all, the ancestors of tomorrow, and how we treat each other today is making history.