4Descendants Logo
   Home     About     Research Services     FAQ's     Blog     Contact     Testimonials  

Full Name:

Email Address:


Conversations with Your German or Italian Ancestors

(No, they don’t have to be there)

 

In this season where tradition encourages families to come together and express gratitude for lives of abundance, this newsletter issue is dedicated to the ancestors who have come before us and, perhaps literally or perhaps figuratively, have led us to where we are now. Do you know who you are? Do you know where you come from?

 

In this newsletter, I will describe the process of identifying and interviewing people who knew of your ancestors. To discover more about your family lineage means learning about your family traditions, culture and stories from people who knew of the time period your ancestors lived in. A picture of your ancestor’s lives will develop through speaking to family, talking to your ancestor’s neighbors or co-workers, and learning (through research) of the people who knew of or lived near your ancestors in Germany or Italy.

 

Family lore is a powerful cocktail of memory and story passed by word of mouth from person to person. As a researcher, family historian, genealogist, or designated keeper-of-the-family treasures, your family tree gaps mean at some point you will need to ask the help of others in this country and across the water to point the way to further clues and research.

 

The wonderful fact of memory, both dodgy, insightful and circumstantial, can help advise you on the next steps of your research. You are the detective inside your family tree to discover nuggets of information from people, places and events to determine if further investigation will yield new buds on your family tree or new depth of knowledge about the time and place your ancestors lived in. The people who lived and worked with your ancestors are now long gone, but their descendants – as family, co-workers, acquaintances, neighbors or friends – are available, and, if they’re willing to talk to you, can provide details you’ve never thought to investigate till now.
 
Catherine D. Steinman (Slagel)2
 

Some Basic Tools

 

  • Make a List of the people who knew your ancestor, then search out the descendants of those neighbors, co-workers, and family.
  •  

  • Digital recorder – to record your conversations, either in person or on speaker phone. Please be sure to inform the person of your intent to record the conversation for your research
  •  

  • Ready-made questions – You can find good beginning family history questions at http://genealogy.about.com/cs/oralhistory/a/interview.htm
  •  

  • Resources Checklist – any household may have in attic, basement or garage items that reveal further ideas for study. You can find a Resources Checklist of potential items on my website at http://www.4descendants.com/resource-checklist.html
  •  

  • Google the challenges faced by immigrant ancestors – by city or province, and learn the pathways out of Italy or Germany that your ancestors (based on timeline) took to their new home or to their next destination

 

Find other Researchers

 

Linkedln – Connect with genealogists and professional researchers who know the towns in Italy or Germany your ancestors came from and send them a message with your question for help. https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=AAIAAA2zOOYBaB1LG2_tMDeeQwxfaMUZDbJHXxQ&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Twitter – Connect with family tree researchers and ask your question in a direct message. https://twitter.com

Check out Tribal Pages http://www.tribalpages.com to see if someone has posted their family tree online where you share a common ancestor. Send them an email about their research.

Use the free research tools and good genealogical practices outlined at the National Genealogical Society http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/tutorials

German database at http://www.germanroots.com/germandata.html

Check out The Ancestor Hunt – Historic German American Newspapers http://www.theancestorhunt.com/blog/historic-german-american-newspapers-updated-july-2015#.VmJWx4QWoUU

Italian databases at http://www.daddezio.com and http://rwguide.rootsweb.ancestry.com/lesson22.htm#Italian

 
 

Talk to People

 

Whether on the phone or in person, giving up my list of questions to go with the flow of conversation encourages people to release small pieces of information – not due to my fact-finding mission – but due to their stream of consciousness accessing memory. One such event happened recently: I’ve been interviewing my mother, now 85, off and on for several years about our family history. In our most recent conversation, she suddenly revealed granddad, on my father’s side, had been in a barbershop quartet, with other church members. Which church? What quartet? The quartet is now long gone, but as it turned out, that 113 year old church is still preaching the good word in Chicago, Illinois.

 

As you reach out to build relationships with others – at work, with relatives, and people who knew your family members, don’t forget to build relationships with the clerks, secretaries, librarians, and church dioceses that provide assistance to your requests for information or documentation. I’ve sent candy to county clerks and professional researchers as thank-yous for their help, guidance, and, yes, suggestions for further research, in my quest for that elusive document that grows one more branch of the family tree.

 

I love interviewing people about their family ancestry; it’s a wonderful way to learn about other lives and other times. I can help you develop those next steps in your investigation with research that will light up your family tree!

 

Email me at 4Descendants@cox.net or call at 602-565-2919.

 

Now is the time to record, organize and compile your family lineage.

 

I will research, design and provide a bound book to celebrate and preserve your family history – for yourself, your family, and your descendants.

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU AND YOURS!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *