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Searching your Ancestors in Italy - Useful info for people researching ancestors in Italy

gmoccaldi - 18 Gen 2015 - 18:09
Oggetto: Useful info for people researching ancestors in Italy
Here is some useful info for those who are starting their searches in Italy. First of all, which Italian documents are fit for finding valuable data for your searches?

Civil Registrations – The dating of such archives may vary significantly according to geographical area, and pre-unification States laws. In Southern Italy (for instance, the Kingdom of Naples and Two Sicilies), records are available from 1809 on, with the exception of Sicily, where they became official in 1820.
Civil Registrations of such Kingdom include Birth, Death and Marriage Registers; also, side notes can be found about religious celebrations. There are two copies of the same register: one at the Town Hall, and the other at the local Court.
In the remaining regions, Civil Registrations generally start in 1866, after the creation of Italian State (1861), but sometimes even later (1871), depending on towns.
You should not forget that from 1805 to 1815, under the reign of Napoleon I, Northern Italy was annexed to France, who established an administration fully equal to its own, about creation and management of Civil Registrations. Napoleonic Civil Registrations are kept at National Archives.
It’s possible to contact the Municipal Offices to request birth, marriage or death acts. They are usually issued after the payment of a little administrative fee.
You should also remember that Town Offices keep official Civil Registrations from 1866 on, and a second copy is kept at the local Court.
According to current laws, you can only access registries older than 70 years.

Parish Registrations – Parish Registrations usually start on or about 1563. They are the direct consequence of Trento Council, that ordered to keep Baptism and marriage Registrations to avoid surreptitious marriages. Such registers are usually kept at the original Parish.
From 1820 on, a second copy was produced, kept at Diocesan Archives. Catholic Church Registries of following centuries represent a valuable genealogical resource for their baptism, marriage and burial records, and for the “stati delle anime” (“souls’ state”), censuses of parishioners made house by house, containing complementary info (military, emigration). You must be authorized by the Director of Diocesan Archives to see them.

Censuses – A census is the calculation and description of population. The first census in Italy was taken in 1871. Starting from then, a census was taken every 10 years. However, most info about families is available in censuses taken from 1911 on. What can you find in such censuses?
• 1871 – 1901. Such censuses contain few useful details from a genealogical point of view, and don’t follow exact rules. In most regions, only the name and job of Family Head is shown, and the number of people living with him.
• 1911 on. Such censuses show names, ages, jobs, family ties to the head, and birth place for all people living in a house. All Censuses till 2011 are kept at province level National Archives, but you can also find copies of censuses from 1911 or 1921 to 2011 at Town Halls. Their availability to the public varies from Commune to Commune.

Military Registrations – Military registers contain data about persons who served in the Army, or were considered fit for military service. In fact, starting from 1865, all the young men in Italy had to serve or be recorded in enrollment lists. According to laws until the 90’s of XX century, all male Italians had to present themselves to a Review Board for a physical examination. As a consequence, registers of the Board keep the list of all male Italians born from about 1850 on, who did not leave the country as children.

Notarial Archives – As in many countries, Italians often go to notaries to formalize purchases, sales, wills…As a consequence, abundant documentation is available, fit for providing interesting and complementary info about families. The “registri di insinuazione” or “registri di controllo” of notarial acts constitute an inventory of all acts written by notaries.
Don’t forget that notarial archives older than 100 years are kept at National Archives and classified by Notary, name, town and hamlet.
Don’t forget that each Italian region had a different history, that bore its own typical registers. So, it’s important to specify the starting geographical point for researches, as resources can vary on such basis.
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