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Cavaliere Anthonly Lascio

Cav. Anthony Lascio Chapter - PIP 1

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Why become a PIP?
by Anthony Lascio
(originally printed in the October 1997 issue of fra noi and revised in May 1999, January 2007)

There's an old expression where someone refers to someone as a PIP. It simply means different, unusual, unique, special. Besides being an expression of yesterday, PIP also means something today, and it's very dear to my Italian heart. PIP is an acronym for Pointers In Person. Okay you ask, what is a "Pointer." Well, Pointer is also an acronym for those who belong to the Pursuing Our Italian Names Together Italian genealogy organization. Therefore when Pointers get together for a meeting, it's called PIP. Now that you're completely confused, let me explain from the beginning.

Ten years ago; a very progressive-minded Italian doctor from Southern California decided to use his computer as a database for his Italian genealogy hobby. His name is Thomas Militello. Because he was interested in knowing whether any others shared the same surnames, he advertised his idea and was joined by a few, then more, and finally many Italian genealogists from around the country. Soon, thousands of Italian surnames.were fed into this database and people like me and those of you who read this column can try to match their surnames with those in the family tree of countless others ... to find a match and to share genealogical data. What a marvelous aid for Italian genealogists, who prior to this "invention" had no such resource. POINT is one of a kind.

Then came a quarterly journal and an annual directory of all the thousands of surnames, submitters' names and addresses, originating towns of the surnames submitted and more.

Exactly six and a half years ago, another original idea surfaced. Wouldn't it be great, I thought, if those member Italian genealogists who were clustered together in metropolitan areas could have face-to-face contact to discuss their goals, their dreams, their obstacles and their successes. Not only would POINT members be able to dine and chat periodically, but their gatherings would be open to all those digging for their Italian ancestors, POINTers or not. Then it happened, first here in Chicago, and eventually in 22 locations from across America.

Over these past five years, people have inquired about the proceedings at those PIP gatherings. Are they formal? Do you have to pay dues? Is this expensive? Does someone put you on the spot? Do you need to be a good talker to attend? Will I learn anything? Can I get help? All valid questions, to be certain. Let's walk through the answers.

[For many years] PIP's first Chicago chapter [met] quarterly in January, April, July and October, on the third Wednesday of the month. These are dinner meetings from 7 to 10 p.m. Genealogists from throughout the Chicago area convene at a central location in DuPage County, West of Chicago. The site of the gatherings is a very Italian restaurant of considerable charm and atmosphere located on Route 53 in Woodridge. The meal and meeting are held in a private room and attendance is usually between 40 and 45. [webmaster note:  this is not the current schedule of meeting dates of this chapter. Please see the home page of this website for current meeting dates.] 

The excellent food is served family style and the complete cost, including tax and tip, is $13 [historical price, see home page for current pricing], a reasonably priced evening by today's standards.

The group chows down for an hour or so, then an informal meeting follows. There are no dues, fees or costs, except for your dinner and an annual request for a dollar or two to defray postage costs. Everyone is notified by postcard about 10 days before the event and an R.S.V.P. is required by the Sunday prior to the Wednesday meeting. [postcards were eventually phased out due to email convenience.]

There are almost always first-time attendees. Spouses are welcome, even if they're not Italian. We love children, but they are happier at home or with a babysitter than they would be with the group discussing their roots.

Those in attendance may talk, listen or both. There's no pressure to speak up. We all learn from others' experiences, which is the whole idea behind PIP. If someone else has been down a certain road and you haven't, think of the benefit when someone shares what they've been through. This interest group makes pursuing one's Italian genealogy easier, better and more fun.

The group is usually informed, before the discussions take place, about the latest developments in the field, new resources that have become available, and other conferences and seminars of interest.

Many of today's genealogists are computer friendly. Because more and more researchers are into computers and on line, this subject is discussed increasingly at each meeting.

The attendees represent the full spectrum of family researchers. Some are brand new to the field, others have just gotten into it within the past year, and others have a wealth of experience spanning as much as 20 years. With such a cross section, everyone learns something new every time they attend.

To directly answer the question, "Why be a PIP?", let me respond by stating that, since genealogy is a lifetime commitment and each step along the road is time consuming and challenging, the genealogist should reach out for whatever assistance is available. The PIP' group provides not only an excellent means to acquire better genealogical skills and knowledge, but just happens to be the only resource of its kind dedicated to Italian genealogy.

Since PIP is centrally located, has a reasonable meeting cycle, is not costly,. and offers a unique and beneficial opportunity to learn more about pursuing your Italian heritage and ancestry, why not consider becoming a PlPster. We'll welcome you with open Italian arms and promise you that when you leave, your head will be filled with ideas and your heart with enthusiasm.

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PIP Chapter 1, 2003 ~ Webmaster:  ~  page last updated on Tuesday, January 16, 2007