Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolution - Research Log

I have enjoyed reading the blog conversation discussing the paradigm shift taking place in genealogy in the last couple of weeks.  Michael Hait began the discussion with The Genealogy Paradigm Shift: Are bloggers the new "experts"?.  There was a wonderful discussion that followed in the comments section.  Marian Pierre-Louis wrote a great reply in Are Bloggers Really the New Experts? , Are Bloggers Really the New Experts Part 2 and Genre and Genealogy

The discussion really got me to thinking about how I fit into this picture.  I am a thirty three year old mother of two young children.  I have been researching my family since my junior year of college.  I am a member of my local genealogy society.  And I have been writing this blog for about 10 months.

I consider myself to be an intermediate level researcher.  I do not have aspirations to become a professional genealogist.  I am just as comfortable on the internet as in an courthouse or archive library.  I have taken a genealogy vacation and believe in the importance of correctly citing your sources.

One of the biggest points I have taken away from the discussion is the importance to be aware that others are reading my blog.  I know that the list of people on my blog as followers are not my family so I am assuming that you are a fellow genealogist.  I do not know why you have chosen to read my blog but I would like to keep you as a reader.  I do not plan on my blog being written at a professional level.  My style of writing is basically the conversation I have with myself in my head.  If you want to know more about my research, including citations, I would love for you to email me.

I have mentioned several times this year how this blog has changed my research.  Some of the changes have come from the focus writing brings.  Other changes have come from being a part of the blogging community and reading other genealogy blogs.  Genealogy blogs have opened my eyes to the educational opportunities out there.  In the last year, I have learned from individual blog posts, watched genealogy webinars, listened to genealogy radio and to genealogy pod casts, and read case studies that are posted online.

I do not consider myself perfect by any means.  In fact, I have a dirty little genealogy secret.  While I am careful to cite everything, I have never really kept a research log.  I have kept some to-do lists but they in no way cut it.  Over the years I have read over and over that research logs are one of the fundamentals of genealogy research.  I have always looked at a research log as an extra step that just takes too much time and impeds any forward momentum when pausing to document the steps.  I am learning this is not so.

I have recently watched Research Logs: Part 1 and Research Logs: Part 2 available on  I have also looked at the research logs available on Google Docs in the forms section.  I have taken parts of each to create my own digital research log in excel.

So by this time I am sure that you are wondering how on earth this is all going to tie in to my New Year's Resolution.  I just want to say that I am listening to the call to "lead by example" as Marian Pierre-Louis says or "put your best face forward" as Michael Hait commented.  I am going to start keeping a detailed research log as my New Year's resolution.  I am going to be a better genealogist and hopefully help influence someone else who is reading my blog to be a better researcher too.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!

This holiday season has been very busy for us. I am loving every minute watching Christmas through my 3 year old's eyes.  I see Christmas lights in a whole new way this year.  The Christmas House in our town is so decorated inside and out that the family lives in their RV in the driveway.  It is definitely one of my daughter's favorite things this year.  Every time we are in the car, she asks to drive by.  I should also mention that any house with lights elicits a "O Wow!" as we pass.

I am promising myself to sit down and write all of the great memories down the day after Christmas.  It is so important to take a moment to document our own personal histories to share with future generations.  I know how I treasure any personal stories I find about my ancestors.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Early Christmas Present For A New Friend

A couple of months ago, offered free access to their immigration files for free.  I downloaded any and all possible records related to my Italian roots.  I noticed on one passenger ship record that my great uncle traveled to the United States with several people with the last name Avetta.  What caught my eye was that they were from the same small town.  

As mentioned in prior blog posts about my paternal grandfather's Italian roots, my family comes from a small town outside of Torino, Italy.  I knew that the chances were small that multiple people traveled from the same small town to the the area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania without knowing each other.  I did a search for the Avetta surname and found a family tree on 

I emailed the owner of the tree who replied that she did not have any Ciardonei's or Siletto's in her immediate family tree but we should keep in touch because Cossano is a small town (At its height, it boasted a population of 1000).  We have been emailing back and forth all Fall with encouragement and research ideas.  I even received a photo of my g-g-grandparents that my new genealogy friend found in a book about Cossano.

I found church records on microfilm for Cossano Canavese, Piedmonte, Italy on and have been busy combing though them the last couple of weeks.  After several emails, I convinced my genealogy friend to send me a couple of name to look for.

I blocked off Tuesday night on my calendar to just research the names I had received at my local Family History Center.  I found baptism and marriage records for several generations.  I had so much fun!  I was giddy every time I found a new record because I knew it was another piece for an early Christmas present.

I scanned all of the images and came home to organize my findings. I was able to fill out a 4 generation chart for each of the names that were sent to me.  I stayed up late so that I could upload the files and pedigree chart to a share website on Sugarsync.  My new friend was so excited to get the images that she even wished she could stay home from work the next day to check them out.

It was such a great feeling to find and send these images knowing what excitement they were going to bring.  I think that even though I have not met this new friend in person, this will probably be one of my favorite Christmas gifts I give this year.  I am also convinced that we will find a common ancestor as I see some common surnames so this research friend might also turn into family.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Another Self Addressed Envelope

That tingle of excitement is back!  There was a self addressed envelope in the mail today.  I want to repeat just how much I love these envelopes. 

I now have a death certificate for Salvatore Siletto.  To refresh your memory, Sal Siletto is my grandfather's, Celio "Jay" Capelli's, uncle.  His wife, Anne, was a witness in my grandpa's naturalization paperwork.  Since Siletto is the maiden name of my great-grandmother, I asked family if there was a connection.  My grandmother confirmed that Sal was the younger brother of grandpa's mother, Adele.  I now know that Sal immigrated to the United States in March 1921, he became a naturalized citizen, and was a baker in Pittsburgh.  Sal's passenger manifest listed his mother as Dominica Brunero.  I also found a 1938 passenger manifest entry for a Lucia Siletto Brunero who was going to visit her son, Salvatore Siletto in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Sal's death certificate confirms most of the information I have already found.  His wife was Anne Bordone.  He was born 17 December 1900 in Italy.  He worked as a baker and lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

The death certificate also lists some new information.  Sal died 27 July 1967 of carcinoma of the lung.  He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The best part is that Sal's parents are listed as Joseph Siletto and Lucia Brunnero.

I now have indirect evidence that proves Salvatore Siletto is my grandfather's uncle.  I am so excited that I have made so much headway in researching my grandfather's family.  I have another piece of the puzzle since Sal was not listed in the baptism records from Cossano Canavese, Italy.  The church records only went through 1899.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Follow Friday - Fancy Nancy: My Family History by Jane O'Connor

Books are a big deal in my house.  Everyone in my family, including the 6 month old, loves to read.  Earlier this year, I was excited when my mom gave my toddler a book that included genealogy. (You can never start them too young!) 

Fancy Nancy: My Family History by Jane O'Connor is an I Can Read Level 1 book.  It tells the story of Nancy's school project to write an ancestor report.  Since all of Nancy's ancestors are deceased ("That is fancy for dead."), she interviews her grandfather to learn about his dad.  Nancy gathers facts, writes her report, and then rewrites her report.  The re-write is necessary to eliminate the embellishments Nancy included the first time around to make her "ordinary" ancestors more exciting. 

I love to read this book to my daughter.  It gives me a chance to connect my daughter with my favorite hobby in a way that an almost three year old can understand.  I also like that it has lessons for adults.  The best place to start with your family history is to interview the living.  You should always gather facts.  You should write a research report for the information you find.  All of us have ancestors who are considered "boring" and it is okay.  

I definitely recommend this book to any geneamommy out there.