03 January 2023

Your Genealogy Mission for 2023

Which genealogy projects do you expect to work on in 2023? I was hoping to complete a big project in 2022, and I thought I had it all wrapped up. Then I found I had a bit more to do. (As of this writing, I have finished!)

I'm eager to get this piece done so I can dive into the next big thing. It's a continuation of my main theme—connecting everyone from my ancestral hometowns. In 2022 I published an inventory of every available vital record for Colle Sannita. That's my paternal grandfather's town. (See "How to Create Your Ancestral Hometown Database.") These documents are available on Italy's Antenati website, but they aren't all searchable.

Anyone searching the web for "colle sannita searchable vital records" will find my file. It shows the name of every person captured in the town's vital records. The file has links to Antenati web pages where you can see the documents for yourself. (See "How to Use the Online Italian Genealogy Archives.")

Besides that very helpful inventory of documents, I did a crazy thing last year. I connected everyone from those 38,000+ documents in my Ancestry family tree. Blood or marriage connects the whole town, with very few exceptions.

I see this as my legacy—my contribution to Italian genealogy.

On New Year's Eve, I was finishing up my inventory of vital records for my other grandfather's hometown, Baselice.

I thought I was about to finish, but I found some work still to do on 1932–42 deaths and marriages. Once I finish and publish the inventory, I'll work everyone from Baselice into my family tree, too. (Most of them are already there because of one of my first big genealogy projects. See "Why I Recorded More Than 30,000 Documents.")

Set yourself up for the most enjoyable year of genealogy!
Set yourself up for the most enjoyable year of genealogy!

This ongoing project motivates me every single day. It's my full-time job. A job I love. As I work through one town, all I can do is think about which town I want to do next!

Make Progress on More than One Track

When you have more than one big project to do, shake off any boredom by having another task to jump to. Fitting everyone from Baselice into my family tree will take a long time. I may feel bogged down at times.

I can keep up my energy by shifting to another town once in a while. Three of my other towns' vital records are almost ready to go into their own inventory spreadsheet. Two other towns of mine need me to finish renaming the files.

All my towns' vital records are on my computer, but mass-downloads don't seem to be possible anymore. I have them stored in separate folders by town, by year, and by type (birth, death, marriage). My file name format for the vital records is the full name of the person who was born or died, followed by their father's first name. For example, the first document image in the "1809 births" folder for the town of Circello is:

1 Angelo Antonio Maria Ianesso di Nicola.jpg

This is the 1809 birth record for Angelo, the son of Nicola. The word "di" means "of" in Italian. It's used to show someone's father's name. Naming conventions in many cultures lead to having a bunch of people in town at the same time with the same name. It saves confusion if you add a father's name to distinguish one Antonio Bianco from another.

The #1 in the file name is the document number in a book. That'll be very helpful if a descendant of Angelo finds his name in my published inventory some day. They'll be able to find the right document easily.

For marriage records, my file names don't include fathers' names—only the full name of the groom and bride. It would be too confusing to see a marriage document with a name like:

1 Vito Aufolisi di Giovanni & Elisabetta Cerrone di Giuseppe.jpg

That looks like it could be an image with 2 birth records or 2 death records.

Stay Open to Sudden Breakthroughs

Of course, there will always be other smaller projects to distract you from your more lofty goals. That's OK. Go with the flow! This past weekend I finally had a breakthrough on my 2nd cousin's father's family. When my cousin asked me if she could access my family tree, I was sorry to tell her that her dad's family isn't in there at all.

Then I saw an Ancestry hint that finally opened his family up to me. I'm hoping to find his grandfather's Italian birth record to give to my cousin.

Get ready for your best year of genealogy yet!
Get ready for your best year of genealogy yet!

This is Much More than a Hobby

Two weeks ago I suggested you look back at your family tree work in 2022 and see where it leads you in 2023. (See "It's Time to Wrap Up Your Genealogy Year.") You may not have a grand scheme in mind. But I'll bet you learned what works, what doesn't work, what makes you happy, and what's a total bore. Whichever projects work well and make you happy should get top priority.

Here are a few examples of smaller projects I've suggested in the past. Which ones look enjoyable to you?

  1. Trim the waste out of certain document images. See "How to Improve Your Digital Genealogy Documents."
  2. Share your tree with those who are interested. See "5+ Ways to Share Your Tree with Family."
  3. Research fallen soldiers from your town. See "Fallen Soldier Memorials Inspire a Research Project."
  4. Scan and safeguard your precious family photos. See "It's Time to Organize All Your Family Photos."
  5. Make a trivia game of your family tree. See "Share Your Family History in a Fun New Way."
  6. Fill in your Ahnentafel chart. See "3 Things to Do with Ahnentafel Numbers."
  7. Document a cemetery that means something to you. See "The Genealogy Project You Bring Home from Vacation."

I know I'll be happy, productive, and entertained by my genealogy work in 2023. Don't you agree that being productive at something you love is a big key to happiness? I used to feel that way about my job. Now that I'm retired, I'm sticking to my same schedule and working on my true passion. And I never get interrupted by stupid conference calls!

I'd love to hear from you. Where do you think 2023 will lead you in your family tree work?


  1. I always admire your enthusiasm and your organization. BUT I am still jealous that you can access so many archives in the South of Italy and I cannot in Lombardy!!! Happy New Year and continue your beautiful work. When I lived in Naples, IT, I could tell the North was always condescending to the folks in the South and making fun of them, but as far as archives are concerned, they should be ashamed for not sharing their own archives on Antenati.

    1. I've often been discouraged when helping someone with roots in Northern Italy. The records are so sparse! Hopefully something will be done about it sooner than later.

  2. I hope to keep interest up as well. Thirty five years plus and still going..

  3. I always got the impression the Society focused only on England. I will look further. Thanks!