Category Archives: Membership

Nat’l Digital News Program from Marilyn DeVries

The National Endowment for the Humanities National Digital Newspaper Program is  a national effort to locate, catalog and preserve on microfilm newspapers published in the US from its earliest beginnings to the present.  The project covers newspapers between 1836 and 1922 and will probably take 20 years to complete.  Many states have them online to view.


Largest Collection of Italian Newspapers from Marilyn DeVries

I also mentioned that you can find the largest collection of Italian newspapers and periodicals (approximately 450 titles, many on microfilm that can be obtained from the Leesburg Library thru interlibrary loan) can be found at The Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota.  You can browse a list of newspaper periodicals held at the Center at:


Website: Escrito Italiano for Military Records from Marilyn DeVries

A questions was asked about Italian military records.  According to “Finding Your Italian Ancestors” by Suzanne Russo Adams,  young men were required to serve for two to three years in the Italian army.  These records are kept on a provincial level and often have indexes available which makes it easier to identify an ancestor’s place of origin.  As a general rule, military records began at or around the time if Italian unification (1860s).  In some parts of Italy they date back to the mid-1700s.  Two copies are made of these records:  one is held at the military district and the other at the county court.  After 75 years the records are sent on to the state archives.  They can either be a part of state archives or separate from them.  If the military records cannot be found at a state archive, they may still be at a military district office. To locate the contact information for a functioning, present-day military office, visit the Esercito Italiano website at>  You might have to visit Italy to look for military records or wait until the Family History Library records them on microfilm.  They have some records available for various parts of Italy.  Search its online catalog by province for Italy.


If you can find a Conscription List (draft list) for your ancestor you will find valuable information including their full name, his birth date and place, parents’ names, profession, education (ability to read or write), whether he was able to serve and the beginning date of military service.  The records will include personal details such as height; size of chest; color of hair, skin and eyes, birthmarks; and condition of his teeth.  If the person died or immigrated before the age of eighteen, this is also noted on the form.  The list in Italian is “lista di leva” or “ registro di leva”.  The list began in 1855.


Italian SIG Meeting November 18, Savannah, 1:00 PM

The Italian SIG will hold its monthly meeting, Tuesday, November 18 at 1:00 PM at the Savannah Recreation Center.
We are honored to have at this month’s meeting the exciting speaker, Dr. James Ragusa, genealogist, retired Air Force R & D Officer, and NASA engineer and manager. His multimedia power point presentation describes the numerous reason why and how emigrants from Italy and Sicily left their homes to venture to an unknown land. He will speak on ships and conditions of their travel; arrival and challenges in their new country; and strategies and research resources will be identified. There will be time for questions and answers.
Guests are welcomed. We ask that you consider donating five dollars for the expense of our speaker.
For more information contact, Joanne De Cecchis at 914-325-7869 or go to www.villagesgenealogyor/sig.htm.


Dr. James Ragusa will speak on Italian/Sicilian Immigration to America.

This multimedia presentation describes the numerous reasons why and how emigrants from Italy and Sicily left their homes to venture to an unknown land. Described are the conditions at the start of their journey that caused them to leave, processing at their ports of departure, the ships and conditions of their travel across a vast ocean, and admission at their ports of arrival. Also identified are the entry challenges they faced and the opportunities they were afforded in American. Time will remain during and after this presentation for questions and answers pertaining to all aspects of Italian/Sicilian genealogical research. Strategies and research resources will also be identified.

Dr. Ragusa is a genealogist, retired Air Force R&D Officer, NASA engineer and manager, tenured college professor in business and engineering, and Army consultant. As a long-term genealogist, he has performed family research in Italy, Sicily, Hungary, the Slovak Republic, the Chez Republic, England, Austria, Scotland, and Wales. However, his specialization remains Italian/Sicilian studies, and he has also researched in Salt Lake City, New York, Chicago, as well as in Europe and the British Isles. As a result of this research, he has written several books on his Sicilian family genealogy some going back to 1676.

One aspect of NASA activities was Gemini and Apollo astronaut training related to launch site egress and rescue to save their lives. He was the “stunt man” for Apollo slide wire (zip line) development and blast room operations. NASA recognized his Apollo contributions by having Astronaut Jim Irwin place his name on the Moon.

All members of the VGS and their guests are invited. We ask that you donate $5.00 towards the expense of our speaker.