Family History History Italy Local History

Finding Treasure in an Unlikely Place

Finding Treasure in an Unlikely Place

Finding a new artifact to add to one’s One-Place Study is something I think we can all agree is exciting! While some “One-Placers” may have an overabundance of civil records, church records, newspaper articles, letters, photographs, etc. at their disposal (depending on where and when they are located), others may have to dig a little deeper, look a little harder, to find even an ounce of information about their places.

For those in the latter category – I feel you. Excluding a few more “well-known” locations, it can be difficult to discover much more than some birth, marriage, and death records for most places (and in some cases, you are lucky if you even find that!) in Italy. So what can we do? We have to get creative…

Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

I was lucky enough to have been able to locate some of the aforementioned civil records for my study on San Giorgio della Richinvelda, a municipality found in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Northeastern Italy.

I have spent months cataloging them, and still have many, many more months (read: years) of work to go. But I was getting fatigued (burnt out?). What else could I do besides create these databases and eventually run some statistical analyses on the data to see how my place compared to the rest of the country? I wanted more. I wanted to know what life was like for the people I was studying.

I knew that the majority of them were contadini (“peasant” farmers), or more specifically, winemakers; the region was, and is, known for its high-quality wines. I also knew that a few renowned artists came from my area. Still, this just was not enough to merit much recognition.

Foto darchivio. La comunita di San Giorgio della Richinvelda tra lOttocento e il Novecento

Through a deep dive of the municipality’s website I was able to find a couple of writings on and a handful of pictures of my subject (most of which I am still trying to figure out how best to integrate into my study).

However, I still could not accept that there was not more out there on a place that had been around for at least several hundred years!

It was then that I remembered seeing a Tweet by a fellow one-placer, Steve Jackson (@AtcherleyONS), about having won a bid on a postcard for his place on eBay. I wondered – could that be a good resource for me?

I tried a number of different searches but was only able to find a few postcards myself (at the time). What else was out there? I set up a “saved search” and went on with my life.

Luckily, just shy of a couple of weeks ago, I had a hit on my search! Someone in Milan had posted a book titled “Foto d’archivo: La comunità  di S. Giorgio della Richinvelda tra l’Ottocento e il Novecento” for sale. A photo archive of my place throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – I could not believe it! I bought it on the 10th of December and received it a mere four days later.

My goodness, not only was it significantly bigger than I thought it would be, but it included *hundreds* of photos of the area, buildings, families, marriages, classes, etc. I have only just started scanning and uploading the photos to the gallery found HERE (sign up for a free account to view), but what a treasure trove!

I recognize a lot of the surnames of people in the photos – could any of them be my ancestors?? I guess we’ll see…

Keep up with my progress on this project here or on Twitter! See below for a sneak peek of a few of the photos I’ve found..


Interested in starting your own one-place study? Read Janet Few’s “Ten Steps to a One-Place Study” (for FREE if you have kindle unlimited – otherwise, click on the title to see it’s current price) to get started! If you do decide to start one, you can register it with the Society of One-Place Studies and/or the One Place Studies Directory. If you are overwhelmed, have any questions, or need help, just reach out to me. I’d love to help!

*A version of this blog post was first written as a guest piece for the Society of One-Place Studies.

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