25 December 2015

Merry Christmas to All Family History Researchers - Buon Natale a Tutti storia familiare Ricercatori

With the help of Google Translate I am sending greetings to Italian speakers as well as English speakers.

Con l'aiuto di Google Translate vi mando un saluto a relatori italiani e anglofoni.

I wish everyone a happy, safe, peaceful and reasonably healthy and prosperous year ahead in this world of uncertainty.

Auguro a tutti un felice, sicuro, tranquillo e ragionevolmente sano e prospero anno a venire in questo mondo di incertezza.

Although this Christmas message is not quite like the one sent by the Queen of England, I wish to inform you that my husband and I plan to spend more time during 2016 in researching the Italian family history together

Sebbene questo messaggio di Natale non è proprio come quello inviato dalla Regina d'Inghilterra, desidero informarLa che il mio marito e ho intenzione di passare più tempo durante il 2016 nella ricerca della storia della famiglia italiana insieme.

There will be several archives for us to examine further in Australia, though we now have plenty of information from Italy thanks to the wonderful assistance and kind support we have received from Carlo in Cremona, Franco and Angela and family in Ciano and Annalisa in Potenza.

Ci saranno diversi archivi per noi di esaminare ulteriormente in Australia, anche se ora abbiamo un sacco di informazioni da Italia grazie alla splendida assistenza e supporto di genere che abbiamo ricevuto da Carlo a Cremona, Franco e Angela e famiglia Ciano e Annalisa a Potenza.

We also send our greetings to:
Inviamo anche i nostri saluti a:

Roberta in the "Studio Bar" in the Liberty building opposite Cremona railway station
Roberta nella "Studio Bar" nel palazzo Liberty di fronte alla stazione ferroviaria di Cremona

The staff at the Astoria Hotel in Cremona
Il personale presso l'Hotel Astoria a Cremona

Felicia in the bar, "Il Clandestino", in Ossolaro
Felicia al bar, "Il Clandestino", in Ossolaro

The staff at Hotel dell'Arpa in Viggiano
Lo staff dell'Hotel dell'Arpa a Viggiano
And best wishes to everyone who has helped us along the way.  

Unfortunately we will probably not be able to return to Italy for some time.

E auguri a tutti coloro che ci hanno aiutato lungo il cammino.

Purtroppo ci sarà probabilmente non essere in grado di tornare in Italia per qualche tempo.

We also send greetings to Belgium and Canada - and to England and Northern Ireland.

Thank you to everyone for assisting with our family history research.  My husband has recently received a redundancy.  Our health has not been good for the past year so we will take things easy, if possible.

Grazie a tutti per l'assistenza con la nostra ricerca genealogica. Mio marito ha recentemente ricevuto un licenziamento. La nostra salute non è stato buono per l'anno scorso quindi dovremo prendere le cose facili, se possibile.

One day we may publish a book.  It will be about the experiences of my husband's relatives on their journeys from Italy to a new life in Australia in the 1880s, 1910s and 1920s.

Un giorno potremmo pubblicare un libro. Sarà sulle esperienze dei parenti di mio marito durante i loro viaggi da Italia per una nuova vita in Australia nel 1880, 1910 e 1920.

I may even work on a film script on the subject!

Potrei anche lavorare su una sceneggiatura sul tema!

With much affection to you all from "Via"
Con molto affetto a tutti voi da "Via"

Email: writetovia (AT) gmail . com 

09 November 2015

Location, Location in Famly History Research

Real estate agents often say similar properties are worth more or less depending on where they are located.

Do you value the geographical origins of some of your ancestors more than others?
Do the homes of any of your ancestors still exist today?

What is the current resale value of the property they lived in? 

Did they own their homes or did they rent them?

Why did your ancestors move from one place to another?

And what about workplaces?  Do any of the workplaces of your ancestors still exist?

If your ancestors had employers, did they live in accommodation provided by those employers?

Did any of your ancestors spend part of their lives in Italy, England, Australia, Belgium or Ulster, or did they live elsewhere?

Do the places where they married still exist?

Google streetview is one way to discover or rediscover a location.  Another is to search through real estate listings.  

For example, in England I know that real estate agents are still called estate agents.  But even that information is not necessary when a street name is known.  

Several property listings exist.  Typing the name of a street into Google or another search engine often reveals real estate listings first.

I have found that the house of my grandparents in England has been sold several times in recent years.  I lived there as a young child and in my late teens.  It was first sold during my lifetime soon after my grandfather died, just after I first came to Australia.  

That house had been a haven for me when I was growing up.  It always seems strange, when I go back to England, that the house of my grandparents belongs to a stranger.  It has been sold several times in recent years. 

Through real estate listings, I have been able to look again at the layout of the house.  I have been able to see how the garden looks, and even a few of the rooms.  The house has been extensively renovated.  My grandparents would not even recognise it. 

The outside is painted a different colour.  The windows have been changed.  The back garden is now only a lawn.  I remember it as being mainly of bright flowers, with a greenhouse of tomatoes.

I have looked at other family locations, too, through real estate agent listings online, including other places I lived or visited as a child.  I have even been able to look inside some of those houses on websites.

And when I look at Google streetview, I simply take a photograph of that part of screen.  It is almost the same as going there in person.

Locations are worth more to me, emotionally, when I think about them in relation to my heritage.  There is little expense involved in collecting readily available images for my own private reminiscing.  The pictures help to jog my memory.  The places I knew as a child and my recalled memories make me realise that so much has changed since then!

05 November 2015

Work, Literacy, Poverty and Conscription

Examining the lives of ancestors often involves delving into their working lives, their levels of literacy and their levels of poverty.  Several of my husband's Italian relatives came to Australia to escape both poverty and conscription between the 1880s and the 1920s.

This included Domenico, my husband's great grandfather, who arrived in Australia aged 21, in 1889.  I have since discovered this picture of him was from his wedding day.   He married at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne in 1896.

In England, my father was fortunate to missed out on being called up for national service. If he had been born just a few days earlier, I may not have been born.

There is still conscription in many countries today. There was conscription in Australia at various times in the 20th century. My Australian-born father-in-law, then aged nineteen, was forced into the Australian Army in April 1941 as an alternative to being interned with his father, a naturalised British subject.

The Italian presence in Australia has covered the entire time of British colonialism and federation.  The earliest Italian family members in Australia had little knowledge of how to read or write.  They could not even speak English at first.

Italy relied on conscription since its modern founding in 1861.  It was finally abolished in at the beginning of this century.  The irony for my husband's paternal grandfather was that he had initially arrived in Australia in 1912, two years after his elder brother, to escape conscription and learn to run a business.  He succeeded and became engaged to an Australian-born young woman of Italian heritage in 1917.

Although there was no conscription in Australia during the First World War, my husband's grandfather was forced to return to Italy as an Italian conscript, leaving behind his business and fiancée.  In the same war, my husband's maternal grandfather was conscripted onto the frontline, where around half a million soldiers lost their lives.

My husband grew up with the possiblity that he could be conscripted himself, in Australia, but fortunately he was still too young when it was ended in December 1972.  His family had already considered sending him and his older brother into hiding.

Being able to make choices in life is eroded wherever there is military conscription without adequate humanitarian and educational alternatives, in my view.  This is especially the case when governments are inadquately supported by societies, and vice versa. 

26 October 2015

Jobs and Ancestors

The ability to do careful, methodical research, in any sort of investigation, is a great skill for anyone to possess in the 21st century.  That is a skill many family historians develop very well indeed.

Have you discovered very much about what your ancestors did for a living?

How might the work of your ancestors have shaped your working life, and your personal life?

If your ancestors were often unemployed, or in poorly paying work and living in poverty, how does that compare with your life today?

If your ancestors were wealthy, was that reflected in the education they - and you - received?

Back in August this year, I had a very interesting message in relation to one of my blog posts.  If you have Huntingdonshire heritage, do you have an ancestor with the surname of Ginn? 

If you have Hertfordshire heritage and the same surname in your family tree then you may be interested in the one-name study conducted by Michael Taylor on his blog:

Ginn Family of Hertfordshire

Mr Taylor is interested in social history, as I am myself.  During his research, several years ago, he went to Huntingdonshire and looked up the parish records for the Ginns, many of whom were my ancestors.  I am very pleased that Mr Taylor has kindly passed on to me the fruits of his labours.

Tom (on left)
Many of the Ginns in Huntingdonshire were tailors.  My Belgian relatives, two of whom married the Ginns, were also originally tailors.

My great, great, great, great grandfather's brother, Robert Ginn, was a sergeant in Wellington's army and was wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, just over two hundred years ago.  My great, great grandfather's eldest son, Arthur Ginn, was killed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli in the First World War, on 25 April 1915.  It is unlikely Arthur would have known about the family history.

Mr Taylor has taken the Ginn family tree back to the 1670s, to a Huntingdonshire village called Southoe, just off the Great North Road.  I now have several additional maiden names to add to my family tree. 

The names Martha Walton, Sarah Rutt, Mary Lawson, Martha Mannering and Ann Saunders are amongst my possible Huntingdonshire ancestors.

I do not have any Hertfordshire heritage, as far as I know.  I do have some Surrey and Middlesex ancestry, mostly around London, through Tom Ginn's second wife, my great, great grandmother Sarah, whose maiden name was Cole.

03 September 2015

The Harpists of Viggiano

Although I do not know if any of my husband's ancestors were Viggianese harpists, I do know that some of them came to Australia from Viggiano in the 1880s.  They did include musicians, though they also earned a living in other ways:  Selling ice-cream and vegetables, bricklaying and possibly a range of other jobs to make ends meet.

I am very grateful to all the people who have helped me with my family history research over the years: In Australia, Italy, Northern Ireland, Belgium and England.  In the later months of last year, I was contacted by a lady in Basilicata who is researching the Viggianese harpists who came to Australia.  She very kindly added a few more layers to the family history for me, and I have tried to help her a little more with her research.

If you can assist either of us in any way, you can either place a few words below (I only publish messages if there are no contact details attached) or send an email to:

writetovia (AT) gmail . com

Please note that I do not publish names of correspondents unless they have already been published.  Privacy is important to me.  It has been especially important this year as my husband is unwell.

Whatever your own family history interests, you may wish to read a brief overview of my mine.

The beginnings

From Italy to Australia

From Southern Italy - mainly Basilicata (1880s)

A man from the Mezzogiorno

A better life

Getting to know great-grandmothers - part three

From Northern Italy - Lombardy (1880s-1910s)

The mill in Ossolaro - part one

The mill in Ossolaro - part two

From Ossolaro to Australia

Via the independent scholar

At the seaside - part four

From Northern Italy - Veneto (1920s)

Getting to know great-grandmothers - part one

Ancestors and asylum

Overview of my Italian migrations research

Civilian internment in the Second World War

Italian migrants and their family histories in Australia

Objects or subjects - You and your ancestors observed

Justice for Josephine

Unlocking Australia's past

And finally, at least for today, I would like to present the following beautiful video.  The link was forwarded to me by the lady in Basilicata at the beginning of this year.

11 May 2015

VE Day with Vera

Vera, my grandmother with two names, was in London for much of the Second World War.  She often told me of that momentous day.

It was just a few weeks before her 30th birthday, in 1945, when she joined the crowds in Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and along The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace.

It was certainly a victory for Vera, her children and her parents.  They had all survived the war.  Soon her husband would be returning home, too.

Vera lived to be 95 years old, with an active mind until the very end.  She would have been 100 this year, if she had lived a little longer.

And she would certainly have wanted to watch the recent commemorations on television.

25 April 2015

Lest We Forget Arthur Tom Ginn (1893-1915)

The Dardanelles Campaign was over almost before it began for my great grandmother's brother Arthur.  At the age of 22 and 4 months Arthur died on the 25 April 1915 and is remembered at Cape Helles.

Before the outbreak of the First World War, as far as I am aware, Arthur had been in the infantry with the 1st battalion of the Border Regiment, on garrison duty in Burma.  He was a member of the regular British Army and his Regimental Number was 10399.

13,167 members of his Regiment lost their lives during the war.  Arthur's widowed father kept the memorial card and it passed to his eldest daughter, my great-grandmother.  I wonder how many other families have similar cards today.

Arthur - You are not forgotten.