“Uncovering Immigrant Origins”
10 March–17 March 2018
Most Americans are descendants of immigrants and the first step towards researching them in their home country is almost always determining their exact place of origin overseas. This is important because many countries (especially Europe) conserved their records at the town/provincial/state level. Therefore, determining where your ancestors came from will help you find the records you need in order to research their lives prior to emigration. These locations are not always easy to find, with research in record after record commonly yielding only their country of origin (“Germany” or “Ireland”) without any further specifics. This course will discuss numerous record sets that may aid in establishing that place of origin – with an emphasis on some lesser-used records, or lesser-used ways to utilize common records.
An added benefit of researching these record sets is that along the way, insightful information about our ancestors’ lives can be uncovered. As such, this course will also help to contextualize the lives of our immigrant ancestors while searching for their place of origin across a host of record groups.
Rich Venezia is a New Jersey native who now calls Pittsburgh home, with roots in Italy, Ireland, England, Wales, and Prussia. He started Rich Roots Genealogy in 2013. He was a member of the research team of Genealogy Roadshow (PBS) for two seasons, and also consulted on Follow Your Past (Travel Channel). Rich specializes in 20th-century immigrant ancestry. His main focuses are Italian, Irish, Pittsburgh and New Jersey/New York research, and dual citizenship applications for Ireland and Italy. He holds a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University, and is the President of the North Hills Genealogists. He is a proud Italian dual citizen. He spoke on “How to Grow Empathy From Uncovering Your Roots” at TEDx Pittsburgh 2017.
Course Schedule (all times U. S. Eastern)
10 March 2017
- 11:00am: “Beyond the Basics”: Naturalization records and ship manifests are often the go-to for determining place of origin. What else can they tell us, and what hints can they provide if they don’t reveal the precise information we seek? An in-depth look at some of the “basics” and how they may surprise us.
- 1:00pm: “Digging Deeper”: Learn a host of different records that may provide details on ancestral origin. Discover information waiting to be found in some well-known, and many lesser-known, records an ancestor left behind, from fraternal organization records to probate records to employment records.
17 March 2017
- 11:00am: “Military Records and Immigrant Ancestors”: Draft cards, service records, pensions… when an immigrant ancestor fought for the American military or interacted with the Selective Service System, the records left behind are numerous and chock-full of information. These records may not only reveal a place of origin, but could tell us a lot about our ancestor’s life.
- 1:00pm: “The Aliens Are Coming: USCIS Record Sets”: A-Files? AR-2 Forms? C-Files? Oh my! Wade through the alphabet soup of the record sets the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services holds to find where your immigrant ancestor may be hiding. (Note that USCIS records mainly relate to late 19th- and 20th-century immigrants.)