Sunday, April 6, 2008

Speaker Spotlight: John Philip Colletta

John Philip Colletta is a Washington-based genealogist whose interest in family history goes back to his boyhood in Buffalo. His father's family was Sicilian, his mother's Bavarian, Alsatian and Swiss, and John was curious to learn how all these ancestors happened to converge in western New York. His research began in U.S. records. Then, while a graduate student in Paris, he ventured into the primary sources of Italy, Germany and France.

After serving in the U.S. Army, John completed his Doctorate in Medieval French Literature at the Catholic University of America. From 1984 through 2005 he conducting workshops for the National Archives and taught courses for the Smithsonian Institution. Now he lectures nationally to genealogical, historical and ethnic societies. He is a faculty member of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University in Birmingham, AL, and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in Salt Lake City, UT. He has also coordinated and taught courses for the National Institute on Genealogical Research at the National Archives (Washington, DC), the Institute of Genealogical Research (Dallas, TX), and the Genealogical Institute of Mid-America (Springfield, IL). His areas of expertise include: tracing families of continental European origin, especially nineteenth century; federal records; and writing a narrative family history that is both a reliable document and a readable story.

Dr. Colletta has published many articles in both popular and scholarly magazines. He contributed the chart "How to Find Your Immigrant Ancestr's Ship" to a permanent exhibit on Ellis Island and his related book They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record, first published in 1989 by Ancestry, Inc. is not available in an updated and expanded 3rd edition. His book, Finding Italian Roots: The Complete Guide for Americans, first published in 1993 by Genealogical Publishing Co. is now available in an updated and expanded 2nd edition. Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath, published in 2000. This book is a narrative history that reads like a murder mystery that recounts the mysterious disappearance of a Mississippi ancestor during Reconstruction.

Dr. Colletta has been interviewed on Voice of America--Europe, National Public Radio, and has appeared on local and national television, including NBC's "Today" show. He is featured in Episode Four of "Ancestors," the ten-part KBYU-TV series that aired in 1997 and its sequel that aired in 2000. His national popularity as a speaker may be attributed to the warmth and wit, humor and humanity, which characterize his approach to the adventure of discovering ancestors.

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