By Angelo F. Coniglio - Last time, I detailed the type of information found on the ships’ manifests of immigrants to Ellis Island, documents that are available on the free site www.ellisisland.org. That site, one of the first to display manifests, can be very helpful, but it has its drawbacks. ellisisland.org sometimes maddeningly displays a manifest that clearly does not match the individual it says it is for. Also, though the site is free, printed copies of the manifests must be purchased from the Ellis Island – Statue of Liberty Foundation, unless you have screen-capture software and the skill to use it. As with all on-line sites, there are many errors in the spelling of names of persons and places. Another aspect of ellisisland.org that could be better is the ‘general search’ where you may want to get a list of all immigrants with a given surname or from a given town.
by Angelo F. Coniglio - I have discussed early traditions for determining given names for Italian children. Today, most names consist of one or more given names combined with family names, or surnames. Surnames are a relatively recent phenomenon in human history. Nobility and landowners may have had identifying names besides their given names, but ordinary residents of (more)
by Angelo F. Coniglio - Naming conventions for given names in a country of origin can help to tie together records of family members. In researching those who were born in Italy and emigrated to the United States, it may also be necessary to know something about how the given name may have been modified in the new country. There are four common ways in which a ‘foreign’ (more)
by Angelo F. Coniglio - Genealogical research, after all, revolves about names. The names of ancestors and relatives are the keys that connect us to them, and help to put flesh and bones on the dry statistics we may find. To identify individuals, most western cultures use at least two names, a given, or birth name (more)
by Angelo F. Coniglio - I’m often asked questions related to genealogical searches for immigrant ancestors. Usually what these have in common is a lack of specifics, as: “Could you help me locate information on my grandmother? Her name was Margaret Polito, and she came to America with her father James Polito and mother Mary, from Italy, in about 1911.” There is little that anyone can help with in this case, based on the small amount of information provided. Before we can find original (more)