• Nicole Belle DeRise

Why Family History?

In 1923, 18-year-old Letizia Simonelli left her family and the only home she ever knew, in Frignano, Italy, for America. Hoping to leave behind the poverty and desperation of Southern Italy, she traveled with her brother and sister-in-law aboard the S.S. Colombo, Letizia spoke no english, couldn’t read or write, and had no money. After disembarking at the Port of Philadelphia, Letizia and her brother and his wife were met by fellow paesani and taken to New York City. Within the next 20 years, Letizia would have a marriage arranged for her, birth ten children, work long hours in a candy factory in Long Island City, Queens, and, in 1957, choose to become a naturalized citizen of America. Sadly, she would never get to see her granddaughter graduate from New York University—87 years after her arrival—with an M.A. in history, a degree that was wholly inspired by uncovering her story, motivations, and experiences.

  • Family History is more than just dusty records and secrets

One of the most common questions I get as a historian specializing in family history is WHY? What's the point? Why would want to expose “skeletons in the closet” or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, retell “boring old history.” The answer is, family history is so much more than just just secrets and boring history. It’s a culmination of who you are today and how you got there. Genealogical and historical research can help to clearly outline where your family came from, what their experiences were, and themes and values that shine through. Perhaps you are related to George Washington or maybe a relative was a bank robber!

  • Family History helps families stay connected

Studies have shown that children that grow up with a strong sense of a family identity rooted in history are more successful and more connected to loved ones throughout life. By uncovering, exploring, and sharing your ancestral stories, you are not only creating stronger ties within your family, you are also getting a more deeper sense of your own self and where you come from.

Engaging a professional historian who specializes in family history can also be an opportunity to solve mysteries and learn about long-lost loved one:

A client recently wanted to discover what had happened to her great-uncle. Her family often whispered of possible prison time but nobody would go in-depth with her, leaving her feeling frustrated and confused. Using available prison records and census materials, I was able to reconstruct her great-uncle’s story, which ended up being much more complicated and heart-warming than just a prison stint.

  • Family History can be an heirloom

So what happens after we decide to work together? Your family history will be delivered in a agreed upon format. As a historian, who specializes in family history, I don’t just create a genealogy describing lineage (although I can do that too), I work to create a story and an experience that can become an heirloom for your family. One that is shareable and can be continued to built upon for years to come.

The professionals at History Bridge Group will work with you to figure out what will be most beneficial to your family story and how to preserve it. Get in touch today!


The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004;Record Group Number: 85; Series: T840

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