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.
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.
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.
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 exciting to work in MyHeritage, engage and communicate with French-speaking users around the world and share the love for family history."