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Italian Research

  • The largest wave of Italian immigration to the U.S. was between 1876-1930. Most immigrants were from southern Italy and Sicily.
    • The ports of Genoa (Genova) and Naples (Napoli) were the most common Italian ports of embarkation.
    • You may find northern Italian families leaving from the port of Le Havre, France.
  • Knowing what town in Italy your ancestors came from is the key to finding useful records.
    • Look at naturalization papers, ships' passenger manifests, military records, their birth records, etc.
    • Italiani is a useful site if you have a town name and need to know what area or province the town was located in. Beware, the site is in Italian, but just enter the name of the town in the search box.
  • Italy does not have a single archive, so genealogical records are most often held at the provincial or town records.
  • Italian archives categorize civil records into 3 groups:
    • Napoleonic Civil Records (Stato Civile Napoleoico) - between 1804-1815
      • Most places in northern Italy did not require civil registrations between 1815-1866.
    • Restoration Civil Records (Stato Civile Della Restaurazione)
      • Kept in the area of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies between 1809-1865.
    • Italian Civil Records (Stato Civile Italiano)
      • All civil registrations after 1866.
      • During this time, two sets of civil records were created at birth, marriage and death. One set is held in the town hall the other at the district court.
  • Italy restricts civil records access to 70 years after the creation of the record.
  • Type of civil records:
    • Birth Records: Usually recorded date of birth, baptismal date, names, ages, occupation and residence of the parents.
    • Marriage Records:
      • Banns (atto di pubblicazioni/notificazioni)
      • Prior to 1865 the banns may contain two or three parts.
        • Act of Solemn Promise to Celebrate Marriage (atto di sollene prommessa di celebrare il matrimonio)
        • For records pre-1866, most will be found in the same place birth records are kept.
        • Records (atto di matrimonio) - Available after 1866
        • Supplemental Documents (processetti/allegati)
      • May also include couples birth or baptismal records and parents death records.
    • Death records are often kept in the same places as birth and marriage documents.
    • Other Civil Records:
      • A historical state of the family certificate (stato di famiglia storic) - vital statistics on whole family.
      • Town population registers (registry di popolazione).
      • Certificate of family status (certificate di Stato di Famiglia) - residency certificate.
  • Church Records
    • 90% of Italy is Roman Catholic
    • La Memoria dei Sacramenti contains details about church holdings and how to access them. Please note that not all dioces have participated.
    • As early as 1563 (The Council of Trent) priests and bishops recorded baptisms, marraiges, in burials in ecclesiastical registers at church parishes an dioceses.
    • Towards the end of the 17th century, parishes began keeping parish census to trach parishioners for taxation and sacraments.
    • Baptismal records were called battesimo or battezato
    • Children between the ages of 8 and 12 were confirmed. Confirmation is called cresima or conformazione.
    • Marriage Records
      • Banns (bandi di matrimonio) announcing an upcoming marriage would be read from the pulip on three consecutive Sundays and posted on the door of the church
      • Marraige records were called contratto di matrimonio
      • If a marriage would have been forbidden, you may find a marriage dispensation (dispensazioni), allowing a marriage to take place
    • Death and burial records were called sepolture
    • State of the Soul Records, called stato dello anime or stato d'anime is a whole family documetnation that contained vital statistics and sacraments that each family member had received.
    are mainly held at the Parish or Diocese.
  • Military Records exist for individuals born after 1850.
    • Records are kept by province and military district rather than town.
    • Records include:
      • Extraction Lists (Liste di estrazione) - Kept between 1855-1911,
      • Conscription Records (liste di leva),
      • Service Records (ruoli matricolari),
      • Discharge papers (foglio di congedo illimitato).

  • Ancestry has over 150 databases of Italian records.
    • Tip: On Ancestry, some Italian Records are listed in the "New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists" database.
  • FamilySearch has the largest collection of Italian records outside of Italy.
  • Italian Genealogical Group
  • The Order Sons of Italy in America is a heritage society.
  • L'Emeroteca Digitale - newspaper collection
  • The Valente Italian Library
    • Contains documents in English and Italian.