3 August 2021

Online books are another source of information about our families.

Part of our genealogy research should include information about the lives of our relatives. I used to be frustrated because others had stories about their ancestors, but all I had were names and dates. Now I’ve discovered the stories too. They usually aren’t written down, but as you read the documents and learn about the local history, the stories emerge.

For my project about the Brasile family, I am tracing them through three Italian towns, and after visiting the town websites which each had a short history, and Googling, I started digging through the online books. One place is Google Books and sometimes you’ll find the whole book – I was reading books written in 1796. Other times the book is still in copyright and you can look at the WorldCat – I contacted Franklin Piece College about looking at a book in their collection.

During my search, I came across Leading Americans of Italian Descent in Massachusetts by Joseph William Carlevale written in 1946. The WorldCat listed several nearby locations where I could view the book but I discovered the book was available on Ancestry.com and I was able to download a copy of the page I knew a fellow researcher would love to see. It doesn’t pertain to what I am working on but it talks about John Petrell, his birth in Acerra, Italy, his professions in the United States, and his wife and children. At the time of writing, three of his sons were overseas serving in World War II – one as a doctor, one in the Navy, and one in the Army. It also mentioned he was a member of the order Sons of Italy; Garibaldi Club; Vespucci Club; and Mutual Aid Society. All this gives us a lot of hints about John’s life that cannot be found in birth, marriage, and death certificates.

Also, some of the books I was looking at were in Italian. Google translated them into English for me.