Search billions of records on

Tony Lascio 2cropped.jpg (25260 bytes)
Cavaliere Anthonly Lascio

Cav. Anthony Lascio Chapter - PIP 1

pipbmp.gif (16907 bytes)

by:  Cav. Anthony Lascio 

A very common question asked by a typical Italian genealogist whether just beginning or with a long history of research under their belt is, “Which ancestors do I pursue and how many do I try to locate?”  That question is, indeed, a very valid inquiry. Which is the right way and which is the wrong way? The answer is.....whatever floats your barca (boat).  There is no set rule.

I know genealogists whose computer data base contains thousands of ancestors. I know others who merely follow the paternal and maternal family blood lines.  Most of us settle for the common ground somewhere in between the maximum and the minimum.

While it is true that “pedigree” refers only to those connected to us by common blood, it is more interesting (but time consuming) to explore the whereabouts of anyone who at one time in history had an affect upon our family tree because of marriage. In other words, there are those relatives who are interconnected to us due to their marriage into the family.

There are some genealogists whose sole mission is to outnumber other researchers by attempting to identify as many dead relatives as possible. They secretly wish to cause the branches of their family tree to bend nearly to the breaking point.  They almost seem to be in competition with the world’s fellow hobbyists by playing the numbers game.  This is not wrong, but it sure is extreme.

The entire matter of which road to follow opens many doors all of which require your careful consideration.  Some of your options include; are you conducting your genealogical quest electronically, on paper, or both; is your computer’s memory sufficient to maintain all the data you are feeding it; do you desire to print out a family tree or have one produced; is the sky the limit or do you have reasonable guidelines and cut off points; how much time and money do you possess in order to accomplish your objectives?

Let’s check out an example, a reasonable one, of a typical researcher’s goals. They conduct initial research which includes not only their grandparents but the siblings of their grandparents along with their spouses and offspring.  They then proceed to the next generation on the family tree which is their great grandparents.  Do they wish to identify the siblings of those ancestors and their spouses and children also?  This presents a sticky question concerning of all of those “indirect” relatives who married into the family’s blood lines. If you answer affirmatively, what about their parents and siblings? Where does it all end as you proceed generation by generation?

As mentioned so many times over the past years as this column has unfolded month by month, remember that each new generation researched doubles the number of the previous one, and that’s direct blood line ancestors only.  By the time you reach back to the 5th great grandparents, the number of names to unearth is 256 in that generation alone, plus 128, 64, 32, 16, 8 and 4 from the previous generations.  If my math is correct when you add all those generations together beginning with your four grandparents and ending with those 256 fifth great grandparents, you have accumulated 508 ancestral names, date and places. 

For many of us, that number is so staggering, it’s sufficient enough.

Now imagine adding to that 508  the siblings of those ancestors plus their spouses and children.....and one can quickly perceive how the number of relatives, direct and indirect, blood line and non blood line, will catapult into the thousands.

One school of thought suggests a genealogist does less non blood line research with each  generation they revert back.  Another scenario suggests one does not pursue the families of multiple marriage partners, unless they produced offspring.  Still another disregards the distant females who marry since their blood surnames are lost.  As you can see, the choices are many and I only scratched the surface of nearly endless possibilities.

The genealogists who claim to be the purists, that is, those who are concerned only with the surnames of their father and mother will devote their complete lifetime, if necessary, to reach back into the depths of history researching those precious surnames only.  Others consider the four family surnames, both paternal and maternal, the objective of their dedication. Finally, genealogists like me will take whatever they can get from those parchment pages of ancient ledgers.  In my view, whatever you gather is all worth the effort.

To summarize, as you contemplate the course of direction you choose to pursue, do not lose sight of your mission and your goal, therefore, be sure to have one. Whether it’s only specific lines of ancestors you’re pursuing or the whole gamut of relatives to fill up all the branches of your family tree, the bottom line is you do what you enjoy and what gives you satisfaction, fulfillment and gratification. If you choose the latter, some day in the future, when your great grandchild shakes your family tree..... even I might fall off.


© PIP Chapter 1, 2003 ~ Webmaster:  ~  page last updated on Tuesday, April 22, 2003