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How to do your own FREE
Italian Genealogy Research

Basic steps on how to find your Italian Ancestors Records and how to request Documents from the Historical Archives in Italy and the USA, by Paula Nigro

Easily & Freely find your Italian Ancestors Records
The only payment required is for copies of the Government Records here and in Italy. Eventually you may also want to make a donation to the Churches in Italy if you need to use their services and if there is someone on staff who is able to do lookups for you. No payment or donation is "required" to have ''professionals'' mail your letters or write them for you because YOU can do it yourself !

You do NOT have to join an organization and pay monthly dues to work on your Italian family tree. Try your best to do your own genealogy research. Be Patient with yourself, little by little take your time and you will have fun and you will meet people who are researching ancestors in the same localities and then you can help each other and you may someday discover that you are related to them too...

Go backwards in time generation by generation. Write down your name, your parents' names, your grandparents' names, your great-grandparents' names and anything else you or your relatives know about your family from Italy including the names of the brothers and sisters .

Discovering records on your ancestors' siblings and cousins (aka collateral lines) will help you document your FamilyTree. Save everything you learn about your ancestors especially significant dates of important events and places your ancestors lived. Sometimes old correspondence, including postcards, will help you find more information. You will need to PROVE your Family Legends and Colorful Stories using Primary Source Documents from Italy and from the places where your immigrant ancestors migrated.

Elders are Gold Dust in Genealogical Research
Visit, Telephone or Write to all of your older relatives and ask them to help you fill in the blanks on your familytree. Ask if they know of anyone who might have additional information. Be sure to take notes. Record the conversations if possible. Date each piece of information given to you & write down who gave you the information. Stay in touch with them.

Your Most Important Step in Italian Genealogy
You must discover the exact place in Italy where your Italian ancestors were born. You need the name of the Italian Comune (municipality, township, village) and Italian Province where the Comune is located. - Your ancestors' last place of residence in Italy before they emigrated may NOT be where they were born.

Once you find your valuable Italian Heritage information you will be able to gather your Italian Ancestry Documents from the correct municipality & province in Italy or any online digital sources. This enables you to connect L'Albero di Famiglia (The Family Tree) of your Italian Family to living family cugini (cousins) and parenti (relatives) related to your exact Italian Branch by comparing the proof you have discovered about your ancestors' family connections.

Your Italian Ancestors' place of birth can be found on documents and records such as USA Immigration papers, Birth records, Marriage Records, Death Records, Census Records, Social Security Applications, Ellis Island or other Immigrant Ship Passenger Arrival Records, Naturalization Papers, Obituaries and some WWI and WWII draft cards. (scroll down for more information) These documents are all very useful in discovering more details about your Italian immigrant ancestor.

Proof vs. Legend
A Primary Source is one that is proof positive that the person mentioned is the person you claim them to be.  Primary sources are documents that were created at the time an event occurred such as a birth, marriage or death date on the day of the actual birth, marriage, or death. A birth date on a death record is not a primary source it is a secondary source. A Secondary Source is one that is not actually proven but gives you a good clue.

IMPORTANT NOTE: all Government and other 'official' records "often" contain errors in spelling, dates, ages, and more. It is best to find at least 3 records for each person in your tree. Most "Family Stories" or "Family Legends" contain a basic truth but are often "decorated" or contain misspellings or other problems of oral tradition.  Collect primary source records to prove the stories. The best ones are handwritten since extracts have the possibility of 2 mistakes. The 1st mistake being an error that was made at the time of an event and the 2nd mistake an error made in the future when someone extracts or transcribes a document by typing it into a form.

Never Trust an Extract or a Transcription
Try to find and view the actual source document or a digital or photocopy of an original record not a typed *version* of the record. It is never in your best interest, genealogically speaking, to trust a transcription of a written record. We need to see the actual document so we don't pass along incorrect information about our ancestors. I reviewed a transcription and part of a tree where the transcriber had a mother married to her son. The mistake made a big, scrambled mess for generations. I tossed it out. It is better to start from scratch than to try to repair big errors.

In addition some transcribers cannot read classic Cursive Handwriting.
More examples here:

Too many people confuse the date of presentation of a birth to the Mayor (or other comune official) as the infant's actual day of birth.
The actual day of birth of the baby on an Italian Birth Record is found near the name of the mother.
Likewise, the day of death of the deceased is found near their name.
The death did not always occur on the day it was reported to the Official and others at the Comune Town Hall noted at the top of the Death Report. You must look for the actual day of death listed near the name of the deceased.

Women in Italy Keep using their Birth Surname even after marriage
It is an interesting fact about Italian Law and Tradition regarding the birth-family name. Some new to Italian Genealogy Research are surprised to find their female ancestor on a Passenger Ship Arrival Record listed with her birth surname and her children listed beneath her with the surname of her husband their father.

-- P L E A S E --
 Never make the mistake of assuming that someone in a microfilm or an online family-tree with the same surname, birth year and born in the same village as your ancestor is necessarily your direct-line family. Italian first names and middle-names of the grandparents of children were often given to grandchildren and passed down to the next generations too. For instance, a man with many sons may have had most, if not all, of the first born sons of his own sons named after him. They would all be known by nicknames in daily life. The Italian Civil and Church Records show the official given name of an individual on their Birth and Marriage records. However, the birth records of their children may only show the abbreviated names of the parents. For instance, someone with a first, middle and 2nd middle name, such as a "Maria Angela Rosa" may be referred to as "Rosa" in daily life so the midwife, husband or relative announcing the birth of a child born to a "Maria Angela Rosa" will give the name the birth-mother used in the village or at home such as "Rosa"

Discover How Easy It Is To Stay Organized
Make it easy to keep your own Family Tree Information whether or not you have an Internet Connection by using Simple, Free Genealogy Record Keeping Tools such as charts, family group sheets and extraction forms.

Storing your Italian Genealogy Research on your own computer and copying it to Cds, DVDs or simply printing it out to save for future reference is the best thing you can do to OWN your Family Tree Research. Sticking it someplace online will not help as it probably will disappear in 10 years or less. Ownership of your own work, in your safe-keeping, makes it simpler to pass along to your relatives and their future generations.

On this site with pages of Helpful Information to help you learn to do Italian Ancestor Family-Tree Research you will find a list of easy to understand, basic genealogical documentation aids and organizational tools, including *PAF* Personal Ancestral File on the Genealogy Record Keeping page of this website.

Click on the link below:

We are blessed that the Latter Day Saints (LDS)
filmed many of the copies of the Italian Civil Records the comuni (municipalities, towns, villages) and some Churches in Italy sent to various archives in Italy such as Tribunale courts and Province archives. They (the "Mormons") have been putting many of them online for free.

You many no longer be a fan of the Internet due to obnoxious pressure by Tech-Elites to get everyone to constantly upgrade their connection devices so they can make more billions and also to spy on everyone. If so, then visit your local LDS Family History Center GO in and talk to one of their friendly genealogy volunteers. Tell them you are researching your Italian Family Tree and would like to pick up their free genealogical forms and research guides. They had an inexpensive, excellent guide to doing Italian Genealogy Research, an Italian Genealogy Word List and more. If they no longer have any printed copies ask if they will print something for you from their online guides.

If you are Home-Bound
the following *Classic LDS Family History Guides* for Italian Genealogy Research will help you! Keep them for future reference. You can use them whether or not you have an Internet-Connection - and *many* lose their Internet Connection due to the economy. FYI a good number of people are now giving up computers and other internet-devices due to the constant push by companies to manipulate everyone to upgrade their computers and programs endlessly (planned obsolescence)

Right Click and SAVE these classic .PDF familytree instruction guides to your computer:




The Online Italian Archives in Italy
are in the process of putting their Italian Birth, Marriage, Death and *more* documents Online. Italians by nature are good people who love their history and the achievements and Art of Italy so the Italian Ministry of Culture tried their best to embrace all types of browsers, computers and devices to present and allow those with Italian ancestors to view historical documents online in digital format.
B R O W S E ~~the Digital Images of the Civil Records held and owned by the Italian State Archives for FREE. 

The following Italian Archives of State (Archivi di Stato) have these Historical Document IMAGES Online:
Archivi di Stato di Agrigento, Arezzo, Ascoli Piceno, Asti, Avellino, Bari, Belluno, Benevento, Bergamo, Brescia, Caltanissetta, Campobasso, Caserta, Catanzaro, Chieti, Como, Cremona, Cuneo, Enna, Firenze, Forlė, Genova, Grosseto, Imperia, Imperia,sezione di Ventimiglia, Imperia,sezione San Remo, Aquila, La Spezia, Lucca, Macerata, Mantova, Messina, Modena, Napoli, Padova, Palermo, Pesaro, Pesaro-Urbino,sezione di Fano, Pesaro,sezione di Urbino, Pescara, Potenza, Prato, Ragusa, Reggio Calabria, Rieti, Roma, Salerno, Savona, Taranto, Torino, Trapani, Treviso, Udine, Venezia, Verbania, Verona, Vicenza,sezione di Bassano del Grappa, Viterbo.

Write to the Civil Record Offices in the Italian Comune of Birth of your immigrant Italian Ancestors if you find there are missing records in the Antenati or Mormon Upload. *For instance* the 1864 Marriage Records for the Comune of San Fele are missing in the LDS upload although Italy still has them.The Italian Churches also have records on your family born in Italy going back to the early 1600s and in some cases back to the late 1500s. These days the churches are understaffed and do not usually have secretaries so in that case you need to visit in person.

DoNot slurp up *MIS*information from online trees
This is a terrible problem NOW happening all TOO frequently due to the lack of accountability on the "anything-goes" online trees. AVOID adding your Genealogy Work to massive world FamilyTrees where people find a familiar name or two and believe it 'must-be' their family and then *graft* their branch to unrelated familytrees. Randomly piecing together names is a Big Mistake. You will regret getting involved.

Dear People... In 5 or 10 years the links you added to your tree to prove you found some proof online will be gone or changed !!!   The link where you found an image or transcription proving your ancestor's existence and dates of events is an online publication link only and can soon become obsolete.

"IF" you took good notes and retained digital images, photocopies, or print-outs of the births, marriages, deaths, photos of tombstones, censuses, draft cards, property records, newspaper articles, etcetera, you will still have your proof and a link will show where you 'originally obtained' your valuable information... although it will not give the information if it is gone. Save the information, for posterity, in a more traditional manner by typing or writing it down and printing it to paper as another back-up.

Sadly, many publication links need to be abbreviated by removing the bloated tracking scripts added by all the commercial sites. Even the Mormons at FamilySearch now add them. Cut the Fat. Learn to trim links down to the shortest URL. Place the TRIMMED publication link into the "Publication Section" of each individual source note. An easy to use, good, non-bloated FamilyTree program will make it simple for you to cite your sources. PAF IS GREAT. Properly saving your research takes very little work if you do it while you go along. Retaining it yourself will make it possible for you to pass along your work to future generations and easily share with current relatives.

LINKS CHANGE - You can bet on it ! The specific historical information of proof you found does not. You will be wise to record the information by typing it into your personal family tree database. I happily use PAF4 and highly recommend it. (Paf is *very easy* to use) I taught myself to use it, goofed twice trashed everything and started over. It does not leave a mess in your internal hard-drive. It does not spy on you. It does not send back information to the company that created it. It takes up very little space on your computer. It is small enough to fit on a CD.

Keep backup photocopies, printed images, digital images, snapshots, paintings, greeting cards, bibles with notes, etc. in your personal off-line files. A source is an image or excellent notes from something you have seen (like a family bible) that you have on file permanently and that you have typed into your notes for an individual. It should include the source author's name, the database location, the image number, and any other form of identification.

SAVE YOUR Family Trees on your own computer or in your own file folders make copies of anything digital and burn to your own Cds and DVDs. Give copies to relatives, keep copies in a safe deposit box, in your mom's attic, in a bag near the door in case you have to take off due to a hurricane, wherever!!!

KEEP and Maintain YOUR Genealogy research and the proof of your ancestors' existence using simple Genealogy Record Keeping Tools.

A computer "cloud" is NOT a magical place it's a data warehouse or warehouses with Servers (huge computers) where you are renting space along with a bunch of other people ... They are big so they can hold billions of people's stuff. Computer clouds waste HUGE amounts of energy - They are Toxic The greens complain about incandescent light bulbs, cow farts and other trivia when "Cloud" computing destroys the environment (wireless heat) and wastes massive amounts of resources while killing the planet.

The word "Cloud" in the computer world is a MARKETING TOOL.  Computer "clouds" are vulnerable since outsourcing data storage increases the surface attack area.

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak says the cloud is a nightmare.

Most of us are regular people, rank and file, the good folk, so backup (save) all your research once a month. Make copies of your work on DVDs, or CDs, or other Hard-Drives, or simply print out info and put it in acid-free archival sheets. Keep your work someplace safe and share with all your relatives if they are interested.

Fastest Most Fun way to Discover More:
Find others interested in the Genealogy of Families from the same municipality, city, comune, town, or village as your ancestor. You will have more fun and better results. Many of them might be related in some way back in the past. Some homepages are linked here: (disable JavaScript to view Tripod without pop-up ads and spam).

Genealogy researchers searching for ancestors who were born in the same town as your ancestors are very important. It doesn't matter if they share your surname. The information from this type of location specific connection is very valuable. Some researchers will know stories that will help you connect to fact. Some might even help you obtain information from the Italian comune or church if they are visiting.

BUILD your own Familytree Website
Use Free servers offering free webspace for your family tree history online.

Personal Ancestral File (PAF) has a WebPage Tool you can use to build your own WebPages. You will discover more relatives if you make your genealogical information available online in such a way that your tree can be easily accessed without forcing potential relatives to go through a red-tape sign-up to view or even WORSE pay-to-view which Ancestry Permira Private Equity Singapore Private Wealth Fund, MyHeritage and others now require with 'their' family-trees, which were given to them for FREE by their subscribers.

Avoid limiting your ability to easily connect to people from all over the world who are doing research on your Italian Comune of interest by locking yourself into a pass-worded or pay-to-view database. Having to give a company Credit Card Information just to view a Family Tree that was GIVEN TO THEM FREELY is basically a Mafioso type of Extortion Racket and a big turn-off for many.

Upload your own family trees. It is not difficult beyond a slight learning curve. You can teach yourself. Be Pro-active. You can do it if you try. The first step is to TRY. Go ahead, get going, Try, Try, Try . . .

Most of the sign-in-to-view sites now require Java Script and are difficult to read due to low contrast (grey backgrounds and thin pale type faces) and Worse is that some Java and other scripts can compromise computer security

Where to Write for Vital Records in the USA:
Most USA States have archived birth, marriage, divorce and death records at their Office of Vital Records since the early 1900s & a few have them from about 1880.  Check this link: If earlier records exist you would write to the County Recorder in the county where the event occurred. Contact the local City Hall where the event occurred as sometimes smaller cities & towns will provide you with copies from their office.Go to our USA-Tools resources links page for more info on various USA Records such as the U.S. Census, Cemeteries, Death Indexes and more. Everything you need in order to teach yourself to do Italian Family History Research or fundamental Genealogy Research can be found via our Site-Map of Genealogy Tools & Resources

Social Security Applications:
Generally, the original Social Security Application will give your ancestor's place of birth and their parent's names including mother's maiden name. You can easily find the SS# on your ancestor's Official State Death Notice. The U.S. Social Security Death Indexes Online *rarely* have listing for people who died before 1962. Also, they only have the names of those deceased persons who had a SS# and obtained benefits or whose survivors applied for benefits against the Social Security Number holder and then the Social Security Administration must move the name and number to the Death Index list. Be sure to request a photocopy of their hand-written SSN request. Go to the USA Tools Page on this Italian Genealogy website for more information.

The U.S. National Archive and Records Administration" has a tremendous amount of information available for genealogy researchers. NARA mailed copies to me of Census Records, Naturalization Papers, Ships Manifests, Ships Pictures and more. If you have enough factual data on your ancestors, simply email NARA and ask them to do a lookup or try a phone call. If you have time, visit the NARA closest to you, although some have closed:

Writing to Italy
Read Steve Saviello's Tips: How to Research by Mail, What Italian Records are available and which Archive in Italy has them. After you know exactly which comune (municipality) / comuni (municipalities) in Italy to write to, use sample "Italian Genealogy Form Letters" which are linked to the "Italian Genealogy Online - SITE MAP"
and the Italy Tools page:

F Y I ... many of the records filmed by LDS are also available by writing to the Italian Province Archives / Archivio di Stato in Italy / Italia. The Italian Province Archives also have records that are not online. They have research facilities and full-time genealogists. So if a connection finds your ancestor in one of the Registries of Birth, Marriage or Death then you can send a request for a copy from the Province Archives in Italy if it is too difficult to deal with online images and familysearch constantly changing and restricting anything but thee "latest" GIZMO to access their site so it is compatible with the genealogy for-sale sites like Permira, Silver Lake Investments Leveraged Buyouts Partnership. 

Understanding and Translating Italian letters
If an Italian Archive sends you a copy of the original certificate in Italian go to the Italian Genealogy Translation Help-Aids webpage on this site and use the links to help you translate the Italian Record. Most of the Civil Birth, Marriage and Death records are standard, simple, formal Italian.

Helpful address and Italian comune look up links are on the "Italy Research Tools" page of this site

Do not send money to Italy without contacting them in advance and getting their response.

Best Regards,
Paula Nigro
Italian Genealogy Online

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