Friday, June 19, 2015

An Interview With Rich Venezia of Rich Roots

We LOVE our Tour sponsors. We hope you enjoy learning more about their services.

Here's an interview with our sponsor Rich Venezia of Rich Roots Genealogy. He's an important resource for those searching for their Italian ancestors.

Gena: How long have you been a genealogist and what got you started?

Rich: I have been a genealogist for nearly twelve years. My maternal grandmother passed away in 2003, and she'd started working on a family tree. I remember rummaging through her typewritten pages (she loved that typewriter), and feeling an instant fascination with this work she'd started. One of the clearest things I remember about my grandparents' house was their never-ending photos adorning the wall - all family. I am so lucky to have grown up knowing exactly what my great- and some great-great-grandparents looked like. So, I took up the mantle to honor Grandma's memory, and have been hooked ever since. I started accepting clients in 2013, and launched my business, Rich Roots Genealogy, almost two years ago exactly.

Gena: What one tip do you have  for anyone beginning to trace their Italian ancestors?

Rich: One tip for those researching Italian ancestors is - read the whole record! So often we get so excited by the thrill of the find that we inadvertently overlook some of the details. Italian civil records are wonderful in the amount of information they provide, especially following the 1861 unification. Sometimes, on one birth record, one can find out the name of both the child's father and grandfather (and whether they are living or dead), the exact place (read: address) of birth (hello, ancestral hometown visit!), notations regarding the child's subsequent marriage and even death in the margins, and notes on the witnesses, who may very well be other relatives. I have so many other tips for Italian records, so it's hard to pick just one, but I think that this is of utmost importance (and certainly applies to non-Italian records as well).

Gena: What's your favorite online resource for research and why?

Rich: I absolutely adore the Italian National Archives' website - Il Portale Antenati [The Ancestors Portal]. They work with FamilySearch and have nearly 40 provincial archives' collections on their website (there are 110+, so a good percentage). Sometimes, their death records go up to the 1940s (great for finding records of parents who remained in Italy...). Their website is very user-friendly, and I love their "thumbnail" set-up. It makes it very easy to spot indexes (always look for one!), but also is less cumbersome than browsing image sets with 3000+ images.I can't wait till they have all of the Italian Archives... their ETA is 3 years or so. An already invaluable resource will be one of the most valuable online for the 17 million Americans with Italian roots (and those around the world with Italian heritage). Best of all, it's free to use. So - let's this keep site our little secret, shall we?

Gena: Why should someone consider Italian dual citizenship?

Rich: Italian dual citizenship can be useful for those who wish to live and work or retire in any country within the EU, as well as those who travel often in Europe. With an Italian passport, the process of living in Europe is made relatively simple - essentially, there are no restrictions for red passport holders! Americans that want to retire abroad face a lot of paperwork, assuring foreign governments they won't work, etc. Folks that want to work abroad need to be sponsored and still need to deal with a lot of restrictions, renewals of visas, etc. Having Italian citizenship makes all of that a lot less complicated. Even just for someone who travels to Europe every now and again, not having to face long non-EU passport lines is a perfect reason. And, perhaps most importantly, for me, obtaining dual citizenship is an important link to my Italian heritage, of which I am very proud. The birth of the dual citizen will be recorded in the local town hall as a foreign birth, and, once received, I believe having the passport is a testament and an homage to those that came before... As obtaining American citizenship was of utmost importance to them, obtaining Italian citizenship is important for us to bring us back to our roots. It's a beautiful cycle, don't you think?

Gena: It is a great cycle to be a part of. So here's one last question for you, what services do you offer clients?

Rich: I offer research services, as well as consultations for those who just want a little assistance in pointing them in the right direction. My specialties include immigrant research (specifically Italian and Irish, but other European ethnicities, as well), as well as New Jersey/NYC and Pittsburgh-area research. Additionally, I offer look-ups and record pulls in local repositories, and assistance with Italian and Irish dual citizenship applications. I try to plan research trips in Dublin and Salt Lake City at least once a year, and I am gearing up towards offering commissioned client research in Italy, too. I also write articles, and speak on a number of topics - mainly on, you guessed it, immigration! My website is, and I am also on Facebook ( and Twitter (@richrootsgen).

Thanks Rich!

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