6    Mar 20125 comments

MyHeritage: Meet Elisabeth, our French community manager

Elisabeth

Elisabeth, MyHeritage's French Community Manager

Elisabeth is our new community manager for France & French-speaking communities around the world, including Switzerland, Belgium, Canada and elsewhere

At a very young age, Elisabeth became interested in her family history, especially her Italian roots. As a teenager, she constantly questioned her grandmother, eagerly taking notes. Her grandmother, soon to be 98, still loves sharing stories from her past.

In college, it was only natural that Elisabeth chose to study history. At 20, she lived for three months in Venice with her Italian cousins. Unfortunately, on that side of the family she only knows  the names of her paternal grandparents’ parents. The archives of their small village – Mansuè, in the province of Treviso - were apparently destroyed in a fire, but she hopes to learn more one day.

Elisabeth’s Italian grandparents who immigrated to France in the 1930s.

Elisabeth’s Italian grandparents who immigrated to France in the 1930s.

About 10 years ago, thanks to the Internet, she contacted someone from Brazil - Gustavo Lunardelli - who bears her grandmother’s surname and whose grandparents came from the same village. They have not yet been able to establish their relationship, but they write regularly, referring to each other as cugino, cugina (Italian for cousin).

Another relationship that she has not been able to establish is with Geremia Lunardelli, born 1885 in Mansuè. He moved to Brazil and became Rei do Café, the largest producer and seller of coffee in the world. According to Elisabeth's grandmother, he was probably her father's cousin.

When she was in the fifth year of her history studies, Elisabeth was so eager to learn more about her Italian family history that she studied in Italy for a year, which became preparation for her PhD studies, which she began the next year.  She intended to stay a year in Italy but remained there for 10 years.

She spent four years searching the Florence archives for her dissertation on "The Jews in Florence at the Time of Cosimo the Elder, 1437-1464." She reviewed thousands of pages of handwritten documents from the middle of the 15th century written in Latin and Italian. The sources were mainly notary records. In the majority of cases, the manuscripts were difficult to read. Only one notary had legible (and beautiful) handwriting: Piero di Antonio da Vinci, the alleged father of Leonardo da Vinci.

Example of typical 15th-century manuscript handwriting

Example of typical 15th-century manuscript handwriting

Elisabeth specialized in medieval Jewish history. Her goal was to rebuild the Jewish families of the time and reveal their daily lives; a real challenge. She succeeded in establishing relationships and building a few dozen family trees. A family tree that appears in the document below is absolutely unique.

A unique family tree from 1440

A unique family tree from 1440

While in Italy, Elisabeth became interested in her maternal side. On this side, her tree goes back much further, to the eve of the French Revolution. Her ancestors were peasants from Gascony. At the moment, this pursuit focuses on her maternal grandfather, a prisoner in Germany during World War II. He worked on the farm of a family with whom he corresponded his entire life. Elisabeth has a photo of him with this German family, but nobody knows where the letters are, let alone the family’s name. She’s determined to find them.

A fascinating and inspiring story!

Elisabeth writes: “I am very excitied to work in MyHeritage, engage and communicate with French-speaking users around the world and share the love for family history."

We wish the best of luck to Elisabeth! If you know French, have a relative or friend that speaks French, follow her blogFacebookTwitter and Google + accounts.

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Comments (5) Trackbacks (2)
  1. How can I contact Elisabeth?
  2. If I have a document in french would she be able to help translate it into english? if so is there a cost?
    Thanks!
  3. How Can I contact Elisabeth?

    Regards
    John
  4. My sister followed the wrong database and the rightful owner wants it back legally
  5. Hi Bernard, Linda and John, Elisabeth will be in contact with you.
    @Lyndobson, please contact support@myheritage.com if you're having a problem with the site.
    Many thanks!

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