Oct 262011

How is my name spelled?

My father always told me that it was originally spelled "Palmieri" but that in the 1930s or so one of my great-grandfather's nephews had everyone change their names to "Palmeri" in an effort to make it sound less Italian.

In fact, my grandfather's birth certificate has all the names as "Palmieri".

birth certificate for my grandfather, Joseph Palmeri, born in 1911 in Buffalo, NY

But as I've accumulated more records, it's become apparent that the occasional early use of "Palmieri" is probably because my great-grandfather and great-grandmother were illiterate when they came to the U.S.

The Ellis Island records all list the names as "Palmeri", not "Palmieri".

Ellis Island manifests for Angelo Palmeri, Calogero Palmeri, and Pietro and Salvatore Palmeri

And when I asked my dad's cousin about the name originally being "Palmieri" he denied that based on what he knew. The birth record for his grandfather, Calogero Palmeri, that he obtained in Serradifalco, spells the name "Palmeri", not "Palmieri".

birth certificate for Calogero Palmeri, my great-grandfather's brother, born in Serradifalco

In addition, while there are apparently no longer any Palmeris in Serradifalco, there is still a street Via Palmeri in town. The image is fuzzy because this was a picture taken off of a TV set showing a VCR tape.

Via Palmeri, in Serradifalco, Sicily

Oct 182011

I thought we were all set with probably the simplest part of our application for dual citizenship: birth certificates for my wife and myself.

Well, my wife informed me that we only have short form certificates.

She learned this when she went down to the local social security office to get an error corrected on her records. It turns out they wouldn't accept her birth certificate. While it was an official copy with a raised seal, it was only a short form, not a long form, so they would not accept it. Apparently, what we both have seems to be the same kind of short-form birth certificate that President Obama originally released that the "birthers" had a cow over until he released his long-form birth certificate. 

my short-form birth certificate (redacted, of course)

We're mailing out requests to the City of Buffalo Clerk's Office to get official, certified, long-form birth certificates today at $10 a piece.

That makes the running total cost so far $186, and we've completed just a handful of steps. And that doesn't include the money I've spent over the past few years filling in the basic genealogical information with ancestry.com subscriptions.

Oct 012011

While I'm aiming to gain dual citizenship through my grandfather and his father, I need copies of my grandmother's and great-grandmother's birth certificates as well. Unlike the paternal birth certificates, these apparently don't need to be official long-form birth certificates, so I'm trying to obtain them on my own rather than pay $50 a piece to go through a place like myitalianfamily.com. We'll see how this goes.

The first step was to figure out where to ask for them. I found several places online that suggested sending requests to the Ufficio dello Stato Civile in the town that the ancestros were born. I was able to find the mailing address in Montemaggiore Belsito for my grandmother and in Serradifalco for my great-grandmother.

The next step was to figure out how to make the request in Italian. Io capisco un po l'italiano. So I needed help. I tried google translate (http://translate.google.com/). To check the quality of the translation, after I translated a sentence from English to Italian, I back-translated the result from Italian to English.

This is what I produced. It says that I need a birth certificate for Rosaria (Sarina) Millonzi, who was born in Montemaggiore Belsito. It gives her birth date and names her parents, Rosario Millonzi and Carmela Parisi. It does ask for them in long form, "formato internazionale" or "estratto per riassunto", just to be safe. It says I will be willing to pay for the processing and shipping. I included a 5 Euro note because we had some Euros in the house from my last trip to Europe. Maybe that'll pay for the shipping. Or it will be a tip for the clerk. If it works and I get the birth certificates, it will be money well spent.

Hopefully this will all work.

Ufficio dello Stato Civile
Comunie di Montemaggiore Belsito
Piazza Roma
PA 90020 Montemaggiore Belsito

Egregi Signori,

Mi chiamo Thomas Palmeri, ed abito negli Stati Uniti all'indirizzo sopradetto. Cerco informazioni sulla mia nonna, Rosarina (Sarina) Millonzi. Nata nel comune di Montemaggiore Belsito. Cerco questi dati per conoscere meglio la mia famiglia, e per trovare i miei parenti rimasti in Italia.

Vi sarei molto grato se poteste spedirmi l'estratto dell'atto di nascita di Rosarina (Sarina) Millonzi. Nata nel 14 Ottobre, 1915. I suoi genitori erano Rosario Millonzi e Carmela Parisi.

Ho allegato copia del certificato di nascita di mio padre e mio certificato di nascita. Si prega di inviare come "formato internazionale" o "estratto per riassunto" con il nome della madre e del padre.

Vi ringrazio in anticipo per la vostra gentilezza e premura, e vi prego di addebitarmi tutte le spese postali e dei certificati.

Ho incluso 5 euro per alcuni dei costi.

Distinti saluti,

Thomas Palmeri