Genealogy Research Guide
your Italian Family Tree Archives in Italy and in the USA is easier with a
better understanding of what is involved, who has the records and if they are
likely to still be available.
Thanks to Steven J. Saviello
founder & Owner of the Comunes_of_Italy Genealogy Group for sharing this helpful information for
your Italian Genealogy Records Research.
Writing to Italy:
Where to Write for What:
Comune Archives - (L'Ufficiale Di Anagrafe)
State Archives - (Archivio di Stato di _________<Name of Province>)
- Vital Records (Stato Civile)
- Certificate of residency (Certificato di Residenza)
- Certificate of Family Status (Certificato di Stato di Famiglia Originaria)
- Vital Records (Stato Civile)
- Registers of the Offices of Conscription (Registri degli Uffici di Leva)
- Notarial Records (Minute, Attie, Bastardelli, Notarili)
- Censuses (Censimenti)
- Tax Assessment Records or Lists (Catasti)
- Registers of Emigration and Passports (Registri dell'Emigrazione e Passaporti)
How To Format the Addresses:
If you are writing to a Comune (town) use the following ("example") of an address format:
No matter which Comune you are going to write you change only the Comune name, Zip code and Province code, which is the (SA) above.
L'Ufficiale Di Anagrafe
Comune Di Salerno
84100 Salerno (SA)
For the Archivio Di Stato ("example"):
No matter which Archivio Di Stato you write, you change only the Name, Street address, Zip and Province code.
ARCHIVIO DI STATO
Via Apia, 1
81100 Caserta (CE)
Owner, Comunes_of_Italy Mailing List
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Records / Italian Organization:
- 20 Regions -- similar to States in US
- 103 Provinces -- similar to US Counties
- Within the Provinces are multiple Comuni
Within a Comuni may be several Frazioni
Record keeping - time frame:
- The Comune has been given the Administrative Duties of record keeping.
Civil Vital Records were instituted by Napoleon, but were inconsistently used within Italy after Napoleon, however, the record format is valid today.
Types of Records: - There are three basic records plus 1 exception:
- Officially began 1860 - 1870
- In the south of Italy - 1866
- Piedmont - 1839
- Venice - 1870 - 1871
- Many other areas began with Napoleon in the early 1800's
Where records are kept:
- Birth -
certificato di nascita
- Marriage -
certificato di matrimonio
- Death -
certificato di morte
Family certificate -
stato di famiglia -
when and where available - addressed later.
Where records are available:
One copy is held at the comune level at the officio di stato civile.
A second copy is sent to province seat and is in the custody of the "procuratore" in the office of the "procura della repubblica".
These records are not available for consultation until they
are 75 years old, at which time they are sent to the State Archives, where, dependent on resources they may be available for consultation.
less than 75 yrs old may be viewed by the persons self, or
There are no national archives.
There are no regional archives.
Officio di stato civile
- Civil Vital Records Office - which
contains two records classifications:
Types of documents available from the records:
- concerned with current living residents.
ufficio di statto civile
- concerned with records of all
persons - born,
married, died, within the comune (ie Putignano).
Records within the
comune reflect birth, marriage, &
if a person married in another comune, the full record is
in that other comune.
The comune of residence can release a
"certificate" of the event,
however, a full EXTRACT would have to come from the comune
where the event
took place. The same is true of births, or deaths.
The original -
la copia integrale dell'atto
- not available except for personal viewing - subject to the 75 year rule of privacy.
The certificate -
- usually sent unless otherwise specified - contains only minimal
The extract -
- contains most information, but must be requested.
- Birth date
- Given name
- Town of
birth (comune only except on a copy of the
Original which can
only be viewed which will show the frazione)
Marriage certificate (recorded in brides parish):
- Same as certificate
- Time of birth
- Childs sex
- Parents names
- Marginal notes - i.e.
marriage, death, emigration
Date of Marriage
Place of Marriage
Bride & Grooms' names
Bride and Grooms marriage status (i.e. widowed, divorced etc.)
Birth place and date of bride and groom, or
alternately their ages
Bride and Grooms vocations/profession
Current residence and citizenship of
bride and groom
Presiding official or priests name
Death certificate - found in comune where death occurred -
Same as Marriage certificate except no
birth dates, only
in a hospital, it may be a different location from the comune of residence, since not all
comuni have hospitals. A transcription is provided to the comune of residence, however, a full
extract must come from comune where death occurred.
- Date of certificate
- Surname/Given name
- Born at
- Birth date information, or approximate age
- Marriage status
- Date and place of death
Family Certificate - stato di famiglia (state of the family):
- Hour of death
- Parents names
Research by Mail:
stato di famiglia originario
(original state of the family)
- stato di famiglia storico ( historical state of the family)
- Should be available for births >1911, (based upon the 1911 census and (later)
- Can be constructed for earlier dates, from individual
documents, if the town office staff is willing, and should cost approximately $40.00.
- Kept at ufficio di stato civile
- Documents all members of the family - past & present, died or moved away.
Writing the letter:
Write in Italian.
Use typewriter, or word processor.
Limit the request to one or two items of information at a
Most useful is stato di famiglia storico - if available, might be worthwhile requesting it even if you think it is not readily
If researching 2 families from the same era and location simultaneously, consider asking for both at the same time records will only
have to be researched once for both.
Provide all available information.
Provide the purpose of the request.
Do not give or imply a deadline unless absolutely
necessary, and then
Include your return address on your letter, and on the
Don't put stamps on envelope - use International Postal
Coupons as an
1st part of the letter:
Address to: ufficio di stato civile in the comune of
Include zip code if known
If no zip code is available, include the Province name
(or abbreviation) in parentheses following the town name.
- Start with "Dear Sirs,"
- End with "Sincerely yours"
2nd part of the letter:
- should identify who is making the request
(include reference to the address you have included in the letterhead)
3rd part of the letter (ending part):
- Requests the specific information & includes all the available information surrounding the request (use your imagination
specifics that will allow them to single out your requested
Request the EXTRACT!!! rather than the certificate.
Request the data on "non legal paper" (in carta libera) - unless you need it for legal purposes.
Include the fathers name of the individual if possible
- Thank them in advance for their time and effort.
- Request they charge you for postal and document expenses.
- Include a self-addressed (unstamped) envelope
Research at the comune level for a single name with date
should cost approximately L1,000 per certificate.
Research at the comune level for a single name with name
should cost approximately L10,000 per certificate
Personal consultation is all right for records <75 years
old with prior
permission from the procura della repubblica.
Conscription began in 1865 for all males age 18 in some parts, however 1873 for most parts.
Two copies made, held at:
- Includes all males born 1855 to present.
- Referred to as "registro di
leva" (conscription records)
State Archive has records of each military district within the province boundaries.
- Military archive of the military district.
- Initially provided to the
"procura della repubblica" and after 75 years provided to the State
- Parents name
- Commune of residence
- Birth date
- Commune of birth
- Ability to read/write
- Physical description
- Draft boards determination of eligibility
Addressed to the Archive Director (Archivio di Stato di
interest (i.e. Bari)
Provide as much information re the person as possible
(same rules as requesting birth, marriage, or death record
Provide a reason for the request.
Request their suggestion for further research in records
peculiar to their region.
- Request a copy of the document - it may contain some
information you haven't requested.
Comunes_of_Italy Genealogy Group
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York City Entry Points By Year:
- Aug.1, 1855 - April 18, 1890
- April 19, 1890 - December 31,
1891 Barge Office
- Jan. 1, 1892 - June 13, 1897
- June 14, 1897 - Dec. 16, 1900
- Dec. 17, 1900 - 1924 Ellis
The State of New York opened the
very first examining and processing center for immigrants in 1855, Castle
Garden, on an island off the southwest tip of Manhattan. Immigration remained
purely an affair of State, not federal, government until 1875. In that year
Congress asserted its Constitutional prerogative to legislate immigration
affairs by passing a law forbidding entry into the USA of criminals and women
"brought for lewd and immoral purposes".
From 1875 the reception of
immigrants was handled as a joint State/Federal system. The Secretary of the
Treasury signed a contract with the New York State Commissioners of Emigration
to continue its services at Castle Garden. On April 18, 1890, the Secretary
terminated the contract and the Treasury Department assumed total control of
immigration at the Port of New York. The New York State authorities refused to
allow the federal government to use the Castle Garden facilities.
On April 19,
1890 the US set up a temporary center in the old Barge Office near the Customs
House on the southeast foot of Manhattan. Ellis Island opened on January 1,
1892. On June 14, 1897 the original wooden structure burned to the ground. ALL
administrative records for Castle Garden for the period 1855-1890 and MOST
records for the Barge Office and Ellis facilities were lost. [Ships passenger
lists still exist as these were in the custody of other agencies] The barge
Office was reactivated and used until the new Ellis Island facility opened on
December 17, 1900.
Stephen J. Saviello. 1997
Includes information obtained by Gay Raab.
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Information Provided on Each US Census by Year:
1 7 9 0
- Name of family head, free white males of 16 years and up; free white males, under 16; free white females; slaves; other persons.
1 8 0 0 & 1 8 1 0
- Names of family head; if white, age and sex; race; slaves.
1 8 2 0
- Name of family head; age; sex; race; foreigners not naturalized; slaves; industry (agriculture, commerce, and manufactures).
1 8 3 0
- Name of family head; age; sex; race; slaves; deaf and dumb; blind; foreigners not naturalized.
1 8 4 0
- Name of family head; age; sex; race; slaves; number of deaf and dumb; number of blind; number of insane and idiotic and whether in public or private charge; number of persons in each family employed in each of six classes of industry and one of occupation; literacy; pensioners for Revolutionary or military service.
1 8 5 0
- Name; age; sex; race; whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic; value of real estate; occupation; birthplace; whether married within the year; school attendance; literacy; whether a pauper or convict. Supplemental schedules for slaves, and persons who died during the year.
1 8 6 0
- Name; age; sex; race; value of real estate; value of personal estate; occupation; birthplace; whether married within the year; school attendance; literacy; whether deaf and dumb; blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict; number of slave houses. Supplemental schedules for slaves, and persons who died during the year.
1 8 7 0
- Name; age; race; occupation; value of real estate; value of personal estate; birthplaces; whether parents were foreign born; month of birth if born within the ear; month of marriage if married within the year; school attendance; literacy; whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic; male citizens 21 and over, and number of such persons denied the right to vote for other than rebellion. Supplemental schedules for persons who died during the year.
1 8 8 0
- Address; name; relationship to family head; sex; race; age; marital status; month of birth if born within the census year; occupation; months unemployed during the year; sickness or temporary disability; whether blind, deaf and dumb, idiotic, insane, maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise disabled; school attendance; literacy; birthplace of person and parents. Supplemental schedules for persons who died during the year.
1 8 9 0
- General schedules most destroyed. Supplemental schedules for Union veterans of the Civil War and their widows.
1 9 0 0
- Address; name: relationship to family head; sex; race; age; marital status, number of years married; for women, number of children born and number now living; birthplace of person and parents; if foreign born. year of immigration and whether naturalized; occupation; months not employed; school attendance; literacy; ability to speak English; whether on a farm; home owned or rented and if owned, whether mortgaged.
1 9 1 0
- Address; name; relationship to family head; sex; race; age; marital status; number of years of present marriage; for women, number of children born and number now living; birthplace and mother tongue of person and parents; if foreign born, year of immigration, whether naturalized, and whether able to speak English, or if not, language spoken; occupation, industry, and class of worker: if an employee, whether out of work during year; literacy; school attendance; home owned or rented; if owned, whether mortgaged; whether farm or house; whether a survivor of Union or Confederate Army or Navy; whether blind, deaf and dumb.
1 9 2 0
- Address; name; relationship to family head; sex; race; age; marital status; ii foreign born, year of immigration to the U.S., whether naturalized, and year of naturalization; school attendance; literacy; birthplace of person and parents mother tongue of foreign born; ability to speak English; occupation, industry, and class of worker; home owned or rented; if owned, whether free or mortgaged.
1 9 3 0
- Address; name; relationship to family head; home owned or rented; value or monthly rental; radio set; whether on a farm; sex; race; age; marital status: age at first marriage: school attendance; literacy; birthplace of person and parents; if foreign born, language spoken in home before coming to U.S., year of immigration, whether naturalized, and ability to speak English; occupation. industry, and class of worker; whether at work previous day (or last regular working day); veteran status; for Indian; whether of full or mixed blood, and tribal affiliation.
1940 - 1950 - 1960 - 1970 - 1980 - 1990 These census records are not currently available for viewing by the public. The US Government has mandated that the records be closed for 72 years after the census was taken. The 1940 census will be open after 2012.
1 9 4 0 Census supplement: (by the editor)
Many of the questions on the 1940 census are standard: name, age, gender, and race, education, and place of birth. The 1940 census also asks many new questions. The instructions ask the enumerator to enter an [a circled x] after the name of the person furnishing the information about the family; whether the person worked for the CCC, WPA, or NYA the week of March 24-30, 1940; and income for the 12 months ending December 31, 1939. 1940 also has a supplemental schedule for two names on each page. The supplemental schedule asks the place of birth of the person's father and mother; the person's usual occupation, not just what they were doing the week of March 24-30, 1940; and for all women who are or have been married, has this woman been married more than once and age at first marriage.
More on the National Archives (NARA) website:
File from Stephen Saviello
Owner Comunes_Of_Italy Italian Genealogy Mailing List.
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U.S. Railroad Retirement Board
Genealogical Related Requests.
The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board administers a Federal
retirement benefit program covering the nation's railroad workers. The records it maintains
deal primarily with the administration and payment of these benefits. The Board will provide information from its
records on deceased persons for the purpose of genealogical research. However, it will not
release information on persons who are still living without the written consent of that person.
The fee for searching our records is $27 for each individual
on whom records are requested. This fee is payable before any search is attempted.
It is not refundable, even if we are unable to locate the information requested or if the file has been destroyed.
Your check or money order should be made payable to the Railroad Retirement Board, and
sent to the
Office of Public Affairs, Railroad Retirement Board
844 North Rush Street,
Chicago, Illinois 60611-2092.
The Railroad Retirement Board, like the Social Security
Administration, was not established until the mid-1930's, and it began maintaining its own
records of all covered rail service in 1937. Therefore, the Board's records
are essentially limited to individuals who worked in the rail industry after 1936. The Board would not have any records of persons
who died prior to its inception. Nor would it generally have any pertinent
records of persons whose rail service was performed on a casual basis and/or was of
short duration. Also, the Board's records are only on persons whose employers were covered under the Railroad Retirement Act.
Employers such as street, interurban, or suburban electric railways are not covered under
The Board's records are kept by the railroad employee's social security number and a person's
social security number often appears on his or her death certificate. In some cases, if that
number is not available, having the employee's full name, including middle name or initial,
and complete dates of birth and death may be of some help in determining whether we have
any records of that person. However, in dealing with relatively common surnames, it is usually not
possible to make a positive identification without the employee's social security number.
Requests for genealogical information should be sent
directly to the
U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, Office of Public
844 North Rush Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611-2092.
Generally, the Board requires at least 30-60
days to reply to genealogical inquiries.
[ Ref: http://www.rrb.gov/mep/genealogy.asp ]
File from Stephen J. Saviello
Owner, Comunes_of_Italy Mailing List
Special Thanks to
Stephen J. Saviello
List-Owner: Comunes_of_Italy Genealogy Group
Editor, 1997 to 2000, Comunes_of_Italy Italian Mailing List
Steve Saviello's articles appear on "Italian Genealogy Online and all things
Italian" with his permission.