Journey Through Time – Exploring Ancestral Stories With the Italian Genealogical Group

Journey Through Time was recorded at a benefit show for the victims of the October 2017 Northern California fires. It features Schon, alongside fellow Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and former Journey and Santana keyboardist Gregg Rolie, current Journey drummer Deen Castronovo, and Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake bassist Marco Mendoza.


Genealogy is the study of families, their relationships and history. It is a broad field that includes such related disciplines as sociology, ethnology and heraldry. It is also an important component of general history, as it can help shed light on the social and economic conditions that shaped individual lives and complex patterns of human migration over the centuries.

The Italian Genealogical Group (IGG) is a professional association of genealogists and related specialists who are members in good standing with the Association of Professional Genealogists. It is dedicated to encouraging genealogical excellence, ethical practice and mentoring, and supports the preservation of records useful to the fields of genealogy and history.

A Member is a professionally-trained researcher who has been certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists and who adheres to the Code of Ethics of the American Society of Genealogists. Members may use their skills to help clients with their own family histories or as part of a team conducting research on behalf of a client. Members are also invited to participate in IGG-sponsored activities such as cemetery crawls, tours, family history events and the annual Christmas luncheon.

Many of Italy’s ancestors emigrated during the wave of out-migration that began with the unification of Italy in 1861 and continued up to World War II. These emigrants left behind valuable information about their families in Italy and beyond in the form of obituaries, church records, ships’ passenger lists and naturalization documents. These records are available in archives and libraries across the world, but can be difficult to find without a guide.


With its manicured fields, rustic farms, cypress-lined driveways and towns clinging to nearly every hillside, Tuscany is our romantic image of village Italy. To the north and east it borders Emilia Romagna, Marche and Umbria; to the south, Lazio. It has almost 400 km / 245 miles of coastline kissed by the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian seas. The area’s history is as rich as its landscape with the Etruscans, Romans and Lombards vying for control of the region over the centuries.

Today, Florence is known around the world for its renaissance art treasures and slanted shell-shaped main square; Siena for its medieval monuments and high energy horse race (Il Palio). But it’s the rural countryside that draws visitors in droves.

Its vineyards, olive groves and sunflower fields are a sight to behold. It is a place where time seems to slow down and life is lived at a more leisurely pace. Tuscany has a wealth of historical records useful for family researchers, many of which can be found in church archives, comunes (town halls) and local libraries. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has visited and microfilmed many of the church records in Italy, including civil registration and parish registers which can help to uncover a great deal of genealogical information. After Italian unification, large waves of Tuscans immigrated to other countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and Argentina.


A region full of charm with a fascinating history, Umbria is a great destination for an ancestry tour. Walk around its quaint villages, lose yourself in its paths or visit iconic Christian sites. From the Umbri tribe that dominated this area to modern times, it has seen a number of civilisations leave their mark. The most notable are the Etruscans, Romans and Papacy.

It is also home to Saint Francis of Assisi, a man who forged an Italian literary tradition and introduced a spirituality linked to fraternity, humility and poverty. Today, the capital of the region is Perugia. It is a renowned cultural centre with a vibrant social life and university heritage.

This is a mountainous and hilly area, with its landscape characterised by the presence of wooded areas that cover almost 30% of the territory. It is also known for its excellent wine, a product that has made it famous worldwide.

Ancestral research in this region can be done by studying the two main record groups, civil registration (registri dello stato civile) and church records (registri ecclesiastici). Our guide to Umbria Province will help you learn how to use these resources to research your family history.


Sicily is the largest and one of the most densely populated islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It has been ruled by many different empires throughout the early Middle Ages. In the 18th century it joined with Naples to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. After a short period of independence, the two Sicilies merged with Italy in 1860. Sicily has a rich history of revolts and rebellions against the various rulers who controlled the island.

While the landowners dominated the politics and culture of Sicily, the average person struggled to survive. Most people were contadini or peasants who lived off their labor. They worked long hours in harsh conditions. Occupations were passed from generation to generation with parents teaching their children what skills would help them survive. Peasants could be farmers, fishermen, peddlers, traveling artisans or small shop owners.

The island was also home to several religions, including Islam, Native Religions, Judaism and Classical Paganism. However, Catholicism was the predominant faith.

Fortunately, unlike England, Ireland and France, Catholic parishes began recording baptisms, marriages and deaths long before the Council of Trent in 1545. Church records can provide a wealth of information about your Sicilian ancestors. The key is to have access to reliable sources and a reasonably proficient knowledge of Italian. If you don’t, your research may be frustrating and difficult.

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