Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of my maternal grandmother. She was born on Wednesday, 18 January 1911, in Waterbury (New Haven County) Connecticut USA. She was given the name Louise Ditoto by her parents Domenico Ditoto and Anna Orsatti Ditoto. Sadly, she died at the age of 80 on Friday, 19 April 1991.
Interestingly, as I began to research my family history years ago, I couldn't seem to find any official record for my maternal grandmother's birth. She lived with our family, so I knew her extremely well, but had never specifically discussed her birth certificate with her. Some time later, I discovered that many Italian and Lithuanian families, in particular, were lax about reporting births to town officials as required. In an effort to rectify this widespread problem, local authorities compared baptism records from Italian and Lithuanian Churches with birth records on file with the town clerk. The result now is a collection of Belated Registration of Birth certificates. These books contain a wealth of information beyond what you might typically find on a birth certificate recorded at the time the birth actually occurred.
For my grandmother, her Belated Registration of Birth wasn't recorded until she was 57 years of age (on 31 July 1968 when I was already 6 years old myself). Her name is listed as Louise Ditoto Lombardo, reflecting her 1933 marriage.
Interestingly, the records at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Waterbury show her as Aloisia DiToto, born January 18, 1911 and baptised on June 4, 1911, by the Rev. Gulius Giovannini. Her God parents are listed as Dominic Ferrara and Antonia Carlozzi.
My grandmother's 'official birth record' is signed by her and also includes her parents marriage date, her marriage date, her baptism location, and the birthdates for two brothers and two sisters. A treasure trove of information - most of which I already knew, but just imagine if I hadn't known this. Wow, what a find!!
I miss my grandmother a great deal and know she would have enjoyed hearing about (and contributing to) my many family history discoveries. Her memory is alive and well in our hearts! Happy Birthday Gram - I love you.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
The best way for me to share this tip is to describe a challenge that I faced with a photograph from my own family. The image (shown below) is a formal portrait of four adult men and a young boy. The men are all dressed in 3-piece suits and holding cigars. The first clue I had was that it was among my maternal grandmother's possessions and passed to me upon her death. So, I could somewhat safely assume the photo belonged to that 'half' of my family tree (meaning, not my paternal half). Now, it's entirely possible this isn't a family connection at all - it may be a portrait of some special friends, but in either case I'll want to understand why it was given to and then saved for all those years by my grandmother.
My family was/is from Waterbury, Connecticut. As far as I knew, all my research had shown arrivals from Italy coming straight to Waterbury and staying there, not traveling or migrating to any other part of the United States. The photograph has a photographers stamp on the cardboard mounting - it reads:
Fine Art Studio Co.
2096 Murray Hill Rd.
(S.A.) Garfield 534 R.
Certainly photographic experts (see Maureen Taylor's website) can tell you the likely time period based on the photographic technique and clothing, but there is a also a relatively simple way to narrow the timeframe when the photo was taken.
Consulting a collection of City Directories for Cleveland, Ohio, you can find a listing for the photographer and match the address to a date. Some businesses operated for decades, but moved multiple times for various reasons. You may find that you can narrow the date range to within just a few years.