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Historical society celebrates heritage

During the month of January, the Schenectady County Historical Society is focusing on the history of immigration in the county, specifically Italian and Polish immigration.

On Saturday, Jan. 10, at 2 p.m., history researcher Peter Sisaro will speak about tracing Italian genealogy, and on Saturday, Jan. 17, Frank Taormina will give a lecture called Immigrants: The Polish and Italian Experience in Schenectady.

The programs are part of a monthly series of lectures on various aspects of Schenectady County's history and heritage.

Sisaro will share his experience as a family history researcher and will provide tips and research strategies to help everyone from the novice genealogist and those who have "hit the brick wall" in their family research. Sisaro will review useful Web sites for genealogy information and research, introduce the audience to many forms of government immigration documents and help researchers discover historical information found in federal census records.

"He reads Italian and can help people doing family history, particularly if they have Italian ancestry because he can read Italian documents," said Katherine Chansky, a librarian at the Schenectady County Historical Society.

Sisaro is a retired English teacher and an experienced genealogist who specializes in helping people trace their ancestors back to their roots in Italy. He developed his expertise in the field of genealogy by researching his own family, who immigrated to the U.S. from Sicily and the Naples area. He has made several trips to Italy to work with Italian genealogical records and currently volunteers in the Region 9 office of the National Archives in Pittsfield, Mass., where he helps visitors use the microfilmed government records pertaining to their family history.

The Grems-Doolittle Library at the Schenectady County Historical Society will be open prior to Sisaro's talk from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Researchers can browse family files, city directories, published genealogies for Schenectady families, and view records on microfilm, including Schenectady naturalization records and New York state census records for the area.

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