Casa Italia is home to many Italian American organizations in the Chicago area. Its mission is to pursue common goals, preserve our past, celebrate our heritage and ensure passage of values to future generations. It offers a wide range of Italian language classes, art classes, cultural events, festivals, and a children’s Italian summer camp.
Casa Italia recently formed a Genealogy Department to collect, catalogue, and preserve vital records, documents, published materials, artifacts, and stories pertaining to Italian American family history in Chicago. The Genealogy Department is managed by Jennifer Holik with the assistance of Casa Italia staff and local volunteers.
“Casa Italia will support the Italian Ancestors Project by forming a volunteer indexer’s group, providing training to new indexers, and advertising the project through social media outlets and at events,” Jennifer said. “We will also be teaching researchers how to search the Italian content at FamilySearch.org, the Italian National Archives’ site, and our library to research and write their family’s history.”
Working in conjunction with the Florence Bartolomei Roselli Library, this dedicated and energetic team has a goal of building the most comprehensive archive of Chicago Italian Americana in the Midwest. Scholars, students, authors, and family historians use Casa Italia’s materials to research a number of fields including sociology, religious studies, demography, and immigration. Currently, their resources include archives, newspaper articles, religious histories, oral history transcripts, ancestral town information, videos of past genealogy programs, Fra Noi articles and newspapers, the Communes of Italy publications, and many other genealogical references. The online records produced by the Italian Ancestors Project will be a great additional resource to Casa Italia patrons.
“Researchers working with our knowledgeable staff and volunteers have been able to better connect, identify with, and appreciate their Italian heritage through the exploration of their family histories,” Jennifer said. “Our department plans for 2013 include forming a genealogy group that meets monthly, a writer’s group, an indexer’s group, publishing projects, and monthly general genealogy-related programming.”