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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 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.