Thursday, January 26, 2023

Rabbit Holes With Randy -- Helping My Grandson With an Immigration Interview

 This was a fun research rabbit hole over the past week.  

My grandson, Logan, age 16, had an assignment in one of his high school classes to interview a family member who knew about immigration in the late 19th century or early 20th century.  He has a fine Danish and Italian ancestry on his father's side, and a 97 year old great-grandmother, born in Italy, who is still alive.  They are not my ancestors, but he picked me to interview because I have researched his Italian ancestral families in hopes of piquing interest in the family history.  

The interview was to answer information about an immigrant story.  I had done some basic research for birth, marriage, death, passenger list, census, and newspaper information, but I had not captured all of the record images before.  The interview questions included:  

1) What do you know about your family's background?

2)  Where did your family emigrate?  When? Why?

3)  Do you know anything about the trip to America?

4)  What did they experience on their arrival?  Did they go through Ellis Island?

5)  What kind of process did they go through to become U.S. residents/citizens?

6)  What was their experience as an immigrant in the United States?

7)  Did you or anyone else in your family experience discrimination?

8)  Do you practice any family traditions that have roots in your immigrant background?

9)  Can you share an interesting story about your family background or a member of your family?

My first step was to select Leone Giovanni Morandi (1894-1979), Logan's second great-grandfather, as the subject of the research and interview.  

The second step was to find more records and record images to build a profile for Leone Morandi.  He was born in Bagni di Lucca in Tuscany, Italy, emigrated four times to America (in 1909, 1922, April 1926 and July 1926), married back in Bagni di Lucca in 1920, and finally settled in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1926.  His wife and two small children (the youngest child was Logan's great-grandmother) came over in March 1929.  Leone Morandi's family was in the 1930, 1940 and 1950 U.S. census records in Salt Lake City.  His Declaration of Intention was filed in November, 1926, citing 5 previous years of residence in the U.S.  The family moved to Petaluma, California in about 1968, and Leone died there in 1979, and his wife died there in 1991; there are obituaries and death records for both of them, but I didn't have time to get death certificates.

The third step was to construct a genealogical sketch for Leone Morandi, summarizing or transcribing the records I found for him and his wife.  When I sent that sketch to Logan, he said that "you didn't answer the Questions" and "I can't read them" (because they were "hen scratches" in cursive handwriting; and there were many columns of information for the passenger list and the census records).  Here is the top of the first page of the five page sketch: 

Patience, grasshopper!!

Lastly, in the fourth step, I answered the questions that he asked of me, based on interpretation of the available records and my knowledge of the emigration and immigration process.  I had no idea how to answer questions 7 to 9 and referred him to interviewing his father, his uncle, and his great-grandmother.  I also found online articles that described Bagni di Lucca, emigration, the Ellis Island experience, and the Naturalization process, and sent them to him as background information.  

I received the questions on Saturday, worked on the record search and image acquisition on Sunday, wrote the genealogical sketch on Monday, and answered the questions on Tuesday.  I sent all of my work to Logan on Monday and Tuesday via email attachments.  I probably spent about 15 hours in total - a nice rabbit hole challenge!  Hopefully, Logan (and his father and uncle) will be more interested in his and their ancestry (heh heh).

I'm not finished.  I need to craft source citations for some of the records, and add the citations to the genealogical sketch.  Then I can add the sketch to my Person Notes in RootsMagic, which will be transferred into my Ancestry Member Tree, and also to FamilySearch Family Tree profiles of Leone and his wife.

My carrots are almost gone now.


Copyright (c) 2023, Randall J. Seaver

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1 comment:

David Fernley said...

An interesting story and a good way to try and get younger people interested in genealogy.