Please join us on Saturday, February 9 as we explore our immigrant ancestors.  Genealogist Rich Venezia will help you navigate your journey through immigration research.  He will be presenting four sessions throughout the day.  Registration is suggested for each session.


Session 3:  1:00 pm
Discovering Your Immigrant’s Origins: Digging Deeper

Continue the search to find your ancestor’s foreign origins in some lesser-used record sets – and in doing so, help contextualize their life in the United States. Some of the record sets covered include USCIS record sets, fraternal orders record sets, heat maps, passport applications, and military records.
Audience Level: Intermediate
Immigrant ancestors didn’t always leave behind too may records that give hints as to their exact place of origin. This lecture focuses on some lesser-known and lesser-used record sets that may help take the research subjects across the pond. Many of these record sets are also rich with genealogical details, and can help contextualize and fill in our ancestors’ lives here in the United States.

A (non-exhaustive) sample of some of the record sets covered: 

  • USCIS record sets
  • Lesser-used military records
    • Pension files
    • Military service records
    • Individual state service records 
  • Fraternal orders record sets 
  • Social Security applications 
  • Heat maps 
  • Employment records 
  • Passport applications


Rich Venezia is a New Jersey native who now calls Pittsburgh home, with roots in Italy, Ireland, England, Wales, and Prussia. He founded Rich Roots Genealogy in 2013. He was a member of the research team of Genealogy Roadshow (PBS) for two seasons, and also consulted on Follow Your Past (Travel Channel). Rich specializes in 20th-century immigrant ancestry. His main areas of focus include Italian, Irish, Pittsburgh and New Jersey/New York City research. He also assists clients with dual citizenship applications for Ireland and Italy. He holds a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University, and is the Past-President of North Hills Genealogists. He is a proud Italian dual citizen. He spoke about "How to Grow Empathy From Uncovering Your Roots" at TEDx Pittsburgh 2017.


This event is part of our Becoming American series on immigration. Becoming American is a project of City Lore in collaboration with the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and the International Coalition of the Sites of Conscience.  The project has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.