The Family Tree Italian Genealogy Guide – a excellent resource for Italian ancestry research – Introduction

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How to Trace Your Family Tree in Italy – An Introduction to Italian Ancestry Research

Lo Schiavo Genealogica offers services in Italian ancestry research. I have assembled great resources by writing my book – The Family Tree Italian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Italy –  brings me great joy. With it, I honor the sacrifices my ancestors made when they left Italy and created a life for us here in the United States. We have opportunities they could only have dreamed of and we’re not possible in the Italy they knew. They left behind all they knew and people they held dear to provide us with a better life. And they succeeded. Our children can go to school and have enough food on the table, and there is extra money in the budget for extracurricular activities. Mille grazie per tutti, Antonino Lo Schiavo Giuseppa Catanese, Maria Di Domenico, e Matteo Catanese….

After growing up in Pennsylvania, I came to know the Italian side of my family in my early twenties. In some ways, this was fortuitous because – when my Italian relatives told me the stories, passed down the recipes, and relayed the diverse history of our ancestors – I was ready and old enough to know the value of what was being conveyed.  I listened, recorded the stories, copied photos, and traced our family history. I went to Italy, saw the houses where my great-grandparents were born, explored the parishes where they were baptized, reconnected with my Italian cousin, and embraced this part of my history. 

Through reconnecting with this side of my family, I came to understand some puzzling things about myself. I had always favored Italian foods, tried to take Italian in high school, and chose to do my senior paper on famous Italians. I was so excited about the homemade Stromboli my friend’s mother served for dinner one night that my mother prepared it for my 16th birthday party. Something in My DNA knew I was Italian before I did. Now, more than twenty years later, my Italian History is ingrained in my very being.

The Family Italian Genealogy Guide - Italian ancestry research
Available for purchase!

As I began researching my Italian ancestors, I fell in love with research, language, and culture. It speaks to me As nothing ever has before. On my first trip to Italy, I stood on the roof of my Palermo hotel and looked out over the mountains that had fed and sheltered my ancestors for centuries, and I felt like I had come home. It was an Indescribable feeling and unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I’m sure others have had similar experiences Upon returning to their Italian hometowns.

I soon became the local expert in Italian genealogy, and before long decided to make this my vocation. I began to prepare myself to offer Italian ancestry research services to clients, educating myself with Italian records, history, and language. I submitted a portfolio of work to the board for certification of genealogist and had my work bedded by the top genealogist in the field. My work passed muster, and I became a board-certified genealogist. I’ve now been a professional genealogist for more than 20 years. I travel regularly to Italy, maintain an office there, and continue to grow my Italian ancestry research and language skills. 

Genealogy, like everything, is constantly changing. New resources are being found or becoming available in different formats. FamilySearch’s Italian digitization initiative is making it easier to research Italian civil and military records from home. Italian archives and libraries have taken up the baton and continued (or have begun) their own digitization project. The Italian archival website, Portale Antenati, will eventually make all civil records and military conscription records held in Italy’s provincial / state archives available on the internet for all to access.

My book, The Family Tree Italian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Italy, was created to help you have an easier time at doing your own research work. It includes detailing useful record types, discussing recent changes to conservation, and identifying upcoming trends that might affect where you find records. In the age of the internet, more and more resources can be mined online for information about your ancestors, their society, or the historical time. They lived Within. These resources are constantly changing and expanding, allowing easier access to more resources. It covers the following important topics:

  • Linking Your Family Tree to Italy
  • Getting to Know the Old Country
  • Tracing Your Family in Italy
  • Advance Resources and Strategies

Cordiali Saluti,
Melanie D. Holtz


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