Those who have ever wondered about their family history will have the opportunity to learn how to find it during the upcoming CACE sesson. Joseph Grandinetti will be presenting Genealogy: Family History in October.
The Mountaintop resident and CPA has been interested in genealogy through family stories since he was a teenager, especially those which told of how his family immigrated to the United States. This will be the third time he teaches the course for CACE.
“I was hooked immediately,” says Grandinetti. “I realized it was all part of me; they made me who I was so I easily identified with a lot of it.”
Grandinetti’s interest was originally peaked by these conversations with older family members, and it is here that he says one should begin their search into their lineage.
“It’s important to begin with oral history because every older relative that dies takes those memories with them,” explains Grandinetti. “The stories are the good stuff. Oral history is just as important as the written history; it supports other research -the stories can lead you to the records. And records can lead to more stories.”
“The records are the skeleton, the stories bring them to life,” he says. All those stories, he warns, can led to a hobby that is never finished.
“There are always holes and that is what makes genealogy a great hobby,” Grandinetti remarks. “You’re never done; there is always something to uncover.”
The course will consist of five two-hour sessions, starting October 18 at Crestwood High School, and is meant for beginners and novices. The class will cover a wide variety of research techniques and resources, including where in the world to start such a project.
“Start with what’s closest to you,” says Grandinetti. “Students will learn how to interview, and then work with what you have. You don’t start with great -great –grandparents; you start with yourself and your parents, working your way backward into the unknown.”
Grandinetti notes that family bibles, documents or photos are a great place to start. But if one has no living relatives, the national search for vital records becomes more important.
“There is a trail through vital records. Property records, military service, voting registration, etc. The US Census a good place to start, and then gather evidence as you go,” explained Grandinetti.
Grandetti relates that more and more of these records are becoming available online as newspapers, libraries and other community governments are digitizing their document holdings. He says that sites and search engines like Ancestry.comare good but everything needs to be cross-referenced and supported with other evidence. One of the things the CACE class will focus on is the importance of documenting and referencing sources as one goes through the research process so his or her work can be supported.
Grandinetti points out, “You have to do the work of verifying and checking the sources and getting more than one source for the information. You may find someone you think is a relative in the US Census. Then you can go to a local newspaper for the time period and find an obituary or marriage record or other evidence they lived on the street that matches the census.”
Once a person has exhausted domestic records, they can branch into immigrant and international research. In fact, Grandinetti’s interest in his own genealogy was strengthened through two trips to Europe where he visited towns in Italy from where his father’s side emigrated, and Ireland from where his mother’s ancestors emigrated. He remarks that genealogical travel is becoming more and more popular as people seek to return to the specific places their ancestors came from. While visiting these towns and villages, Grandinetti has been able to trace his father’s Italian family heritage back to the 1600s and his mother’s Irish heritage to the early 1800’s.
According to Grandinetti, “Italians kept very good records and the climate allowed for excellent preservation. Many records on my mother’s side were lost in fires or other conditional problems of the damp countryside. It has taken years.”
Grandinetti explains that the CACE course will give people the basic tools they need to get started on their journey. He says that one should come only with a general knowledge of his or her own past.
“Just show up with a healthy sense of interest in the topic, an open mind. We cover a lot of ground in the five weeks.”
He relates that genealogy research can be done as often or as little as each individual has time for and is open to people in every stage of life. He adds that people should not be intimidated by the scale of what could open up, aside from the occasional surprising fact that may surface about a distant relative –but that too, is a plus.
“You’re going to find a lot of things from black sheep to celebrities and everything in between,” jokes Grandinetti. “The unknown is very intriguing with this hobby.”
“It’s a very personally gratifying feeling. Its intergenerational, the satisfaction. For myself it helps me understand myself. Gives you a feeling of pride and understanding where you came from,” concludes Grandinetti.
Register with CACE by visiting CSDCOMETS.orgor by calling Marcia at 570-868-3797.