There are two main skill sets that a genealogist needs to know:
1) How to conduct historical research (Debora has a B.A. degree in history), which included formal coursework in genealogy and training for any type of historical research, and a full semester on critical thinking and analysis of historical sources), with rigorous testing from university professors (graduating with honors).
2) To understand genealogical resources that exist in the field (Debora has a library degree, archival focus), and has been doing genealogical work all of her adult life (since the 1970s).
A world traveler, with a cultural anthropology background, she has also done research in South America (see the full blog about this adventure January 2014) where she tracked specific Italian immigrants, following their internal migration all over Brazil, visited coffee plantations where immigrants once worked, met with professional archivists at museums, did research at the National Archives, and studied internal migration patterns, railroad history, and the thriving Little Italy in Curitiba.
In Ireland, she conducted research at the National Archives in Dublin (after decades of conducting research by mail), and visited the ancestral farm house of her Irish ancestor in Donegal. She also went London and to a small town in England, called Colne, where she found the records of her mother’s line, and to several towns from one end of Wales to the other, researching her husband’s family. Debora has been to Mexico and collaborates with a professional researcher there.
Italian settlements are the primary focus of the Pallante Center of course. Debora has visited and studied Little Italy Toronto and Montreal Canada many times, and most Little Italy neighborhoods of the East coast United States from Maine to Florida, and west to Chicago, Michigan, and many times to Philadelphia (having grown up across the river South Jersey). From New York she has successfully helped clients of South Africa find their town of origin in Italy, and has a professional contract there.
This extensive experience has given her a first-hand knowledge of some of the main areas where Italian immigrants settled, an important background that aids with being able to find records that pertain to these areas, and a general knowledge of migration patterns, which is useful in the quest to discover a town of origin in Italy.
Ms. Hill received hands on training and experience in helping genealogy and history patrons at various historical societies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania (the Mid-Atlantic Region of the U.S.), as well seven years of professional training at the world-renowned University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology in Philadelphia, Pa. (having minored in anthropology and world cultures in college–especially the Mediterranean region). This included curatorial work involving inventory and cataloging, as well as work as an archivist in training at the museum archives room, preparing finding aids and assisting visitors.
She has done professional cataloging of artifacts and old documents, trained in conservation, written articles about collections, and worked as a professional archivist at an upstate New York history museum, where she conducted genealogical searches and responded to the letters of people seeking their ancestors. At a large archives center she helped professors and grad students find primary source materials for their research projects. When you write to an Italian archives office, it is the archivist who does the search. Debora understands what is involved in being in charge of a record collection. She understands the issues from their point of view regarding access restrictions and preservation and knows how to deal with such offices in Italy.
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