Childhood is, or should be, a time of innocence, and for a while that is the way it was for brothers Michael Jr. and Jeffrey Gentile. And then a pistol fell out of a coat. “We were taking the coats from people who had come over to visit our parents and this gun just dropped on the floor,” says Michael. “For us it wasn’t a matter of, ‘Oh my God, loo...

Researchers of Sicilian and Italian genealogy are blessed by the wealth of original records of birth, baptism, marriage and death that may be found for many ancestral towns, on microfilm or on line. Often those original records may have misspellings, or valid variations of given names or surnames.  In many cases, misspellings by English-speaking cl...

When your ancestors settled in America, many of the important events that happened in their lives and their families’ lives were recorded in U.S. vital records. The main types of records that may yield valuable information about your ancestors are marriage, birth and death records. Each of these types of records has a distinct advantage in discover...

I grew up, as I’m sure many of you did, with a lot of Italian relatives who married into your family line, but some were a little different. There might be a godmother who doesn’t quite connect to the tree or folks who we call our “uncles” and “aunts,” but were they really related? “Who was Cooma Micheline? Is she a cousin of Nonna?” Nobody seemed...

The race question is going to get complicated for many people who identify as white on the U.S. census. Since 1960, when U.S. residents were first allowed to self-report their race on the census, just answering “White” has been enough to complete the race question. But the federal government is now preparing to essentially ask non-Hispanic white pe...

Maybe you got one of those find-your-ancestry kits over the holidays. You've sent off your awkwardly-collected saliva sample, and you're awaiting your results. If your experience is anything like that of me and my mom, you may find surprises — not the dramatic "switched at birth" kind, but results that are really different from what you expected. M...

Jenny Tonks, a professional genealogist, will present a program on Italian genealogy on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. at the Memorial Hall LIbrary (2 North Main Street, Andover, MA). The program will focus on Italian emigration to the U.S., the relevant demographic patterns that help break through brick walls, and strategies for corresponding direct...

Grand Island is home to the impressive Hall County Courthouse, a stately structure designed by noted architect Thomas Kimball of Omaha. Now, Grand Island residents can be proud that their city’s downtown has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. “The district contains an intact collection of late-19th and early- to mid-20th-ce...

Looking around the room full of their second cousins in Valpergo, Italy, in 2014, sisters Dee Pollinger, Washington, and Jean Woll, Union, could see some family resemblances, striking resemblances in at least two cases. But they hadn’t needed to see any likenesses. The sisters already knew they had found what they were looking for — family. They ha...

We carry our own history in our name: it often tells about our relatives, after whom we may be named, or about name trends in the year we were born. It speaks of our parents’ tastes and preferences, whether they liked novelty or tradition, the new or the old. Surnames are even more important, because they hold so much information about whom we and...