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Wednesday, January 27, 2016
"Finding Your Roots": Jimmy Kimmel, Norman Lear and Bill Hader
Posted by Diane
The family trees of three funny men were the focus of this week's
"Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr.": "Saturday Night
Live" cast member Bill
Hader, late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel,
and television writer and actor Norman
Lear (who's going strong at age 90).
Gates' contrasted each guest's humorous outlook with the sadness in
his family tree. Here are the highlights (or maybe I should say
- Jimmy Kimmel: Usually the show waits until the end to
get into DNA, but Your Genetic
Genealogist blogger Cece Moore appeared early on to
explain how DNA testing could reveal whether Kimmel's
great-grandfather Frank Kimmel was the biological child of
German immigrants Christian Kümmel and Teresa Stockhausen. They were
married six years after Frank was born and their obituaries
don't acknowledge him. Moore compared the autosomal DNA of a
known Stockhausen descendant, a known descendant of both Teresa
and Frank, and Jimmy Kimmel's father. Results showed Frank was
the child of Christian and another woman. Researchers weren't
able to learn why he was estranged from his parents.
Kimmel's mother's family immigrated from Southern Italy
and settled on New York City's crowded Lower East Side of
(home to the wonderful Tenement
Museum). His great-grandfather Vincenzo's brother and father
died in an earthquake
on the island of Ischia in 1883. Vincenzo immigrated in
1903, then sent for his wife and children nine months later.
- Bill Hader: Hader's German-American
great-great-grandfather served in World War I in France, where
he wasn't seeing any action. He left his unit for the front
lines, perhaps trying to prove his patriotism in the face of
anti-German sentiment from home. Gates spent most of his time on
Hader's mother's line, in which an ancestor from the
conflict-filled border state of Missouri chose to enlist for the
Union. His military pension record claimed he was going deaf as
a result of "nasal catarrh" (a cold) contracted during the war.
our guide to finding your ancestors' military pension records,
and Antiquus Morbus is
my favorite site for looking up archaic medical terms and
causes of death.)
The show's researchers traced Hader's mom's family to
Revolutionary War soldier and slaveowner William Simms in
Virginia, an indentured servant in Colonial Maryland, and all
the way back to Charlemagne (a heritage that's not all that
to this article).
- Norman Lear: Norman Lear's story had the most sadness
to me, from his childhood spent partly without his father (who
served prison time for a get-rich-quick scheme during the Great
Depression) to his Jewish ancestors' impoverished, persecuted
existence in Russia's Pale
of Settlement. A series of pogroms there in the late 1800s
and early 1900s prompted his family to emigrate to the United
States. On his maternal side, Lear's grandfather left first, and
sent for his grandmother ("Bubbe") and then-6-year-old mother in
Lear's paternal great-grandfather died in the United
States in 1902, and his tombstone inscription said he was a Levite, a
descendant of the tribe of Levi. His DNA shows he indeed carries
the genetic signature found among Levites.
can watch the full episode on the "Finding Your Roots" website.
Genealogy TV | Italian roots | Jewish roots | Military records
Wednesday, January 27, 2016 3:36:37 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
"Finding Your Roots" Traces Celebrity Chefs' Italian, Mexican and Chinese Immigrant Ancestors
Posted by Diane
Last night's "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." on PBS
focused on the immigrant ancestors of celebrity chefs of different ethnic—and culinary—backgrounds: Tom Colicchio
(Italian), Aarón Sánchez (Mexican)
and Ming Tsai (Chinese).
I don't have family heritage in these places, but I think this already interesting show would be even more interesting if you're researching in any of these areas.
I appreciated how this show detailed various motivations for
immigrants to leave their homelands, and explained how some would
travel back and forth between home and the United States before
finally settling here. This was quite common, especially for men, who would come to earn money to take to their families
back home. More than half of all Italian immigrants in the early
20th century, Gates said, were "birds of passage."
Here are some highlights of this episode:
- Tom Colicchio's great-great-grandfather traveled to America in
1901, returned to Italy, then came back in 1906 and went home
again in 1911. He was pressed into service in the Italian army
in World War I, and finally brought his family to settle in the
United States in 1947. The show described the burgeoning
population, harsh taxes, crime and an earthquake that propelled
Colicchio's family to leave their picturesque town of Vallarta.
- Aarón Sánchez's great-great-grandfather was a prominent
rancher in Mexico who lost everything he had and fled to the
United States during the Mexican
Revolution. He later was able to get his cattle back.
Sánchez's third-great-grandfather, born in Spain in 1822, was
the military commander Hilario Gabilondo. In 1857,
Gabilondo ordered the deaths of about 70 filibusters (Americans
attempting to seize land in Mexico) in an expedition led by
former California state senator Henry Crabb. Read
more about filibustering here.
The show's researchers traced Sanchez's ancestors in
Spain back to his sixth-great-grandfather in the early 1700s. A
DNA test revealed Sanchez has nearly 25 percent American Indian
ancestry (the equivalent of having an Indian grandparent) and 3.7
percent African-American ancestry.
- Ming Tsai's grandfather was a comptroller of a university in
China when Japan invaded before World War II. He was sent to a
prison in Japan, where he was tortured and contracted typhus; he
nearly died. He was able to return to his work after the war,
but the Cultural
Revolution, during which millions of intellectuals and
"bourgeois" were persecuted and killed, forced him to flee.
Many historical relics were destroyed during the
Cultural Revolution, including steles, or carved
stone tablets recording families. The Ming family stele was the
only one remaining in their town. It led researchers records at
the Shanghai public library (probably jiapu,
or books recording paternal family lineage) that allowed them to
trace his ancestry all the way back to his 116th-great-grandfather
in the 27th century BC.
In trying to find out more about steles, I came across the House of Chinn website,
about Chinese genealogy research and the author's own family. You
might find it helpful if you're researching ancestors in China.
You also can search
a surname index to jiapu on subscription website Ancestry.com.Each chef's cuisine is inspired by the foods of his ancestors; each recalled delicious meals with parents and grandparents. As the holidays approach, it's good to remember that food is a great way to introduce family members to their ancestors. You might even say that the way to a nongenealogist's heart is through his or her stomach.
can watch this episode of "Finding Your Roots" online, at the
Asian roots | Celebrity Roots | Genealogy TV | Hispanic Roots | Italian roots
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 10:36:08 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
6 Great Italian Genealogy Resources
Posted by Diane
Italian Americans are one of the United States' largest ethnic
groups, and they celebrate their heritage during Italian-American
Heritage Month in October.
Thomas & Andrews, 1812, David Rumsey Map Collection
The largest wave of Italian immigrants, from 1880 to 1920, brought
more than 4 million arrivals, most from Southern Italy.
Italians who've helped shape American history include Christopher
Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci (whose lent his name to the American
continents), Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot), Giovanni da Verrazzano,
Francesco Vigo (spy and financier of the American Revolution),
Francis Spinola (the first Italian-American to serve in Congress),
Francesca Cabrini (founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred
Heart, and the first American saint) and Fiorello LaGuardia.
Following are just a few of the Italian genealogy resources gleaned
from our Italian
Genealogy Premium Collection:
- Comuni-Italiani.it: Clicking on one of the regions in Italy on this site, you’ll learn
the names of all the provinces; click on a province for a list of
all its towns and cities. Then click on the town for helpful
genealogy links, contact info for the town hall, and an e-mail link.
- Newspapers: The country’s largest collection of Italian-language and
Italian-American newspapers is at
the Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) at the
University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. You can purchase copies of
most IHRC microfilm or borrow it through interlibrary loan (ask your
local librarian to make the request for you).
- Order Sons of
Italy in America:
Originally called Figli d’Italia, this organization was formed June
22, 1905, by Italian immigrants in New York City. The goal of this
still-active group was to help Italian immigrants become US
citizens, assimilate to American life, find educational
opportunities, and obtain health and death benefits. The
aforementioned IHRC is the depository for the organization’s
historical membership and other records. Search the IHRC's online
manuscript finding aids
for Order Sons of Italy to see what's available.
Genealogy Premium Collection has essential tools for
discovering ancestors from Italy, including
- Italian Genealogy Group
: This New York City-based group has members worldwide. Its website
has how-to articles and several searchable databases (most including
non-Italians as well) covering NYC births, marriages and deaths; New
York and New Jersey naturalizations, Italian commune names, and
can learn more about the Italian Genealogy Premium Collection in
ShopFamilyTree.com, and happy Italian-American Heritage Month!
- the classic Finding Italian Roots by John Philip
- our Best Resources for Tracing Your Italian Roots video class
- our Italian Genealogy Cheat Sheet download
- Our Italian Genealogy Guide download
- Italian Genealogy 101 Independent Study Course
- the Genealogist's Guide to Italian Names
Italian roots | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales
Wednesday, October 08, 2014 10:01:55 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Websites and Organizations for Italian Genealogy Research
Posted by Diane
David Rumsey Map Collection
From 1880 to 1920, more than 4 million Italians immigrated to the
United States (often, traveling back and forth a few times first), where they tended to live alongside
other Italians in urban areas. Today more than 17 million Americans
can claim Italian ancestry.
Among exciting new resources for Italian genealogy are 137
collections of civil registration, church and other records at
the free FamilySearch.org. Most aren't indexed, so to
find an ancestor's records, you'd need to know the comune (the basic administrative division, similar to a municipality) and
frazione or contrada (similar to a neighborhood) where he or she lived. An ongoing Italian
Ancestors Project is organizing volunteers to index these
Tree University's new Italian Genealogy 101 four-week online
course, starting May 19, will help you use American records to
figure out where in Italy your ancestors came from, then delve into
Italian genealogical records.
Ancestry.com has an Italian sister site, Ancestry.it, but it also
of Italian records available with a subscription to the US
Ancestry.com site. Some of these will duplicate what's on
FamilySearch.org, after an international
records-sharing agreement last September.
Many other websites and organizations that aren't quite as
well-known also have resources for tracing Italian roots, including
Genealogy 101, you'll learn about all these and other
resources for researching your Italian ancestors, including how to
access and understand Italian records, and how to deal with common
brick walls in Italian family trees.
Genealogy 101 starts May 19 and runs through June 13. You'll
find a course outline and a link to register at
Ancestry.com | Family Tree University | FamilySearch | International Genealogy | Italian roots
Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:00:02 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe: Genealogy How-to for 13 Countries and Regions
Posted by Diane
As you might guess, I enjoy asking people I've just met where their
ancestors are from. Here in Cincinnati, the answer often involves
Germany, so then I ask about their surnames to see if we have anyone in
common. (Then I wrap it up before people start thinking I'm
Every once in awhile, someone will answer my ancestor inquiry with, "Oh, I'm a mutt" and rattle
off a bunch of ancestral homelands.
Well, this is for all you genealogy mutts: The
Family Tree Guidebook to Europe: Your Essential Guide to Trace
Your Genealogy in Europe.
collects genealogy research guides to 13 countries or regions of
Europe, plus European Jewish ancestors. You'll learn
It's a good way to get expert instructions for researching ancestors
across Europe in one economical package. The
Family Tree Guidebook to Europe is available now in
ShopFamilyTree.com (where you'll see the list of countries covered).
- what records are available and where they're kept
- which records you can get from here in the US using the web, microfilm, books and other sources
- how to get records from overseas
- how to deal with language barriers and boundary changes
- what websites, books, organizations and archives can help in
You also can get The Family Tree Guidebook to Europe as an ebook.
Genealogy books | German roots | International Genealogy | Italian roots | Jewish roots | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, October 02, 2013 2:43:52 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, March 01, 2013
Genealogy News Corral, Feb. 25-March 1
Posted by Diane
The new Legacies
of British Slave Ownership database holds the names of
46,000 slave owners in British colonies who received compensation for the loss of
"property" when Britain
abolished slavery in 1833 (it outlawed the trade in 1807). The database doesn't name slaves, but it could aid those who are tracing African ancestors by researching the slave-owning families. Search the database here.
... and don't forget about the Heirloom
Registry Online Scavenger Hunt taking place next week. Have a good weekend!
- The Civil War Trust's annual Park Day
takes place Saturday, April 16 at more than 100 participating
battlefields in 24 states. Volunteers help clean and maintain these
important Civil War sites by raking leaves, picking up trash,
painting signs, clearing trails and more. To learn how you can help,
trust's Park Day page and click on the name of the
participating Civil War site you're interested in (note that some
sites are holding their volunteer events on alternate dates).
African-American roots | Civil War | Historic preservation | Italian roots | UK and Irish roots
Friday, March 01, 2013 11:05:04 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
What's in a Name?
Posted by Beth
Bonne année, Gutes Neues Jahr, Xin nian yu kuai, Feliz Año
Nuevo and Kali hronia … Whether you say it in French, German, Mandarin, Spanish or Greek, they all translate to "Happy New Year!" Hope yours is off to a great start!
Speaking of languages, genealogists understand and appreciate the value of names and all the family history information that they can provide. Naming patterns and traditions; spellings; pronunciations; and meanings can impact your search for ancestors from a given locale.
To provide added insight to your ancestral search, we've created 15 PDF downloadable reference guides featuring first names from around the world. Each comprehensive guide is presented in dictionary-style format, making it easy to search for names, spellings and their meanings. For example, A Genealogist's Guide to British Names reveals that the name Harry means "ruler of an estate." Rather prophetic for Prince Harry!
Get more information from your genealogical research this year with a better understanding of your ancestral names!
A Genealogist's Guide to Ethnic Given Names
A Genealogist's Guide to African Names
A Genealogist's Guide to British Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Chinese Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Eastern European Names
A Genealogist's Guide to French Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Gaelic Names
A Genealogist's Guide to German Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Greek Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Hawaiian Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Indian Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Irish Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Italian Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Japanese Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Jewish Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Native American Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Russian Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Scandinavian Names
A Genealogist's Guide to Spanish Names
African-American roots | American Indian roots | Asian roots | Celebrating your heritage | French Canadian roots | German roots | Hispanic Roots | Italian roots | Jewish roots | ShopFamilyTree.com Sales | UK and Irish roots
Wednesday, January 02, 2013 12:04:21 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
Monday, October 15, 2012
FamilySearch.org Adds Free Records for 20+ US States & 20 Other Countries Including Italy
Posted by Diane
FamilySearch has added more than 70 million indexed genealogy
records to the free FamilySearch.org
over the past couple of weeks.
The indexed records come from the United States and 20 other
countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean.
Updated or new US records are from more than 20 states, plus New
England passenger lists.
You can access FamilySearch.org's indexed records by using the search boxes on
the FamilySearch.org home page (which will give you results from all
the indexed records on FamilySearch.org) or by using my favorite
method—searching that specific collection.
You can find the search page for a specific collection in one of two
Got Italian ancestors? More than 8.3 million new browsable images of
civil registrations and church records from Italy also were added.
Because these aren't yet indexed, you'll need to find the page for
the collection and then view records for the place in Italy your
ancestor lived. Click
here for FamilySearch.org's list of Italian record collections.
- use the place filters on FamilySearch.org: Scroll down on the
home page, choose a world region next to the map, then choose a
country, date range or collection on the left to narrow the
collection list to those covering your ancestor's lifetime. Then
click on the title for the collection you want to search.
FamilySearch | Free Databases | Italian roots | UK and Irish roots
Monday, October 15, 2012 10:54:30 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
FamilySearch: 1940 Census Is Only One of This Year's Projects
Posted by Diane
At tonight's FamilySearch bloggers meeting at the National Genealogical Society Conference, FamilySearch both celebrated the progress of the 1940 Census Community Project and emphasized that it's just a part of what the organization hopes to accomplish his year. Here are some stats we were presented with:
Getting 400,000 historical record images online at FamilySearch.org is FamilySearch's goal for 2012, and the 1940 census is just one percent of that.
FamilySearch.org has collections for 60+ countries, with the United States leading the charge at 200 million images with more than 1 billion indexed.
More than 530 million digital images of historical records are on the site, with 1.7 billion indexed.
Comprehensive collections include Mexico civil and church records and civil registrations from the Netherlands.
FamilySearch has a contract with the Italian government to digitize civil registrations there dating through 1940.
Besides records, FamilySearch is also working on a program that has 10,000 volunteers answering genealogists' questions online via VOIP and chat technology.
Now for the 1940 census project, 101,000 volunteers have helped index or arbitrate census; 170,000 of them new this year. They were recreuited through genealogical societies (650 are participating), a blog ambassador program, targeted online advertising and other efforts.
95 percent of all FamilySearch indexing activity is for the 1940 census, but as the project winds down, FamilySearch will try to transition those indexers to other indexing projects.
30 percent of all the census records were indexed within 37 days. As of tomorrow, six states' indexes will be published: Delaware, Colorado, Kansas, Oregon, Virginia and New Hampshire.
California is more than 40 percent indexed.
Archives.com, findmypast.com, the National Archives and ProQuest also receive copies of the volunteer-created index.
The 1940 census index could possibly be completed (though not necessarily published) by July.
census records | FamilySearch | International Genealogy | Italian roots
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 9:58:10 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
Friday, February 10, 2012
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Marisa Tomei Episode
Posted by Grace
Spoiler alert! Don’t read if you don’t want to know what
happened on Marisa Tomei’s episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” on NBC.
I missed some of tonight’s “Who Do You Think You Are?”
and here’s why:
But I did see that she started out at home in New York,
where her mother retold the family legend about how Marisa’s great-grandfather
Leopold was killed in a bar by a jealous husband or someone he owed money to. That
was the story Tomei wanted to find out about.
In Italy, Marisa was at first thrown off track by a cemetery
record that said Leopold had died of an illness. That would have been a major
bummer after all the murder mystery buildup.
But later (after the part I missed except to notice the beautiful
Italian scenery and Marisa Tomei’s enviable wardrobe), newspaper articles and
court records show that Leopold was killed by a business partner who'd been fired. The
man hired a fancy lawyer and got off with a minor charge, then disappeared.
I think my favorite part of the episode was the letter a cousin
wrote to Marisa to share memories of Leopold’s wife Adelaide. What a dream that
If you missed this episode, you can watch it on the show's website.
See our "Who Do You Think You Are?" page for beginning research resources including our free downloadable Getting Started Cheat Sheet, plus show news and tweets.
If you have Italian roots to research, consult our $4 downloadable Italian Genealogy Guide and the book Finding Italian Roots: The Complete Guide for Americans by John Philip Colletta.
"Who Do You Think You Are?" | Celebrity Roots | Italian roots
Friday, February 10, 2012 9:57:28 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)