In the early 1970s, representatives from the families of Waldensian descent who lived in the western states (U.S.), met to create a new organization. As a result of the falsified reports they had received, they wanted to determine how to proceed with research but in a united way. The FHL specialist for southern Europe who had also supervised the Piedmont Project, Hugh T. Law, graciously offered suggestions, including a name: the Piedmont Families Organization, Inc. (PFO).
In 1980, Marriner Cardon, of Waldensian descent and a lawyer, took the initiative to register the resulting organization with the Internal Revenue Service (under section 501[c]). This means that donations to the organization, which are all used only for research, are fully tax-deductible.
The major project of the PFO from April 1992 to the present--and still to continue for some years--has been supporting an on-site researcher who is systematically extracting all Waldensian information of family history interest in the notarial records. The rich collection of notarial records are now housed in the State Archives at Torino; there are at least 600 volumes pertaining to the Waldensian Valleys. However, the PFO project is focusing on extracting information primarily up to 1709, as by then the parish registers began again.
The researcher extracts the information, volume by volume, and sends the results to the PFO genealogist as an electronic (computer) file. These extractions are still in Italian, but are typed, making them much easier to read than the microfilms.
Rora, a small village, was chosen as the first area to be researched. Working with a small village permitted some experimentation to determine the best approach to take. It also provided experience with what kinds of information notarial records in the Valleys would actually contain, and how best to try reconstructing pedigrees from the information.
To this point (spring 2000), the PFO researcher has finished extracting the early notarial records of Rora, Angrogna, Luserna San Giovanni (St. Jean), and Prarostino, which includes Roccapiatta. He's currently working on Pomerollo. And extraction continues, the pace being controlled primarily by the rate of donations.
The results are too massive for this rather small group in PFO to extract each family represented in the records, as was done in the Piedmont Project. Rather, each PFO family-and others who have expressed interest, such as the man in Argentina I've referred to-works at reconstructing families on their own pedigree. When lines overlap, as they frequently do, the involved families coordinate so as to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.
Members of the PFO invite others of Waldensian descent both to join in the research effort and also to donate to the research fund, thus hastening the availability of the notarial records from the other Waldensian communities.
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