You are fortunate if you have Italian ancestors! With the Catholic Church being the predominant religion, the recording of births, marriages, deaths and burials in parish books is assured. This tradition of record keeping forms the backbone of genealogical records in Italy. If ancestors remained in the same village for many generations, they may be traced back step by step through the parish records. Very often, the mother’s maiden name is included in these vital records.
If the particular location of the ancestral family in Italy is unknown, research must begin in the U. S., or wherever they settled after leaving Italy. Records in their new home may hold clues to their previous place of residence in the old country. Patterns of association with others of Italian ancestry may help to identify the specific place of residence before immigration. People often migrated in groups. Most Italians entered the U. S. through the Port of New York, with Philadelphia being another main port of entry. Their names may appear on a passenger manifest. Specific places of previous residence for each traveler are listed on the passenger manifests from the early 1900’s and forward.
Censuses began to be taken every ten years, starting in 1871. But until 1911, the censuses listed only heads of households, the occupation of the head of household, and the number of persons living in his or her home. The 1911 and later censuses list each person in the home, with their ages and birthplaces.
Once the specific town and province of origin is known for an ancestor, other records can be employed for learning more about their familial connections. These include civil registrations, military and notarial records, probates, taxation, and more.
Heritage Consulting is fortunate to have a professional genealogist of Italian extraction, who knows the language and records of Italy. He has solved some difficult cases for our clients, researching at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. If the vast collection of the Family History library does not have something we need, which is very rare, we have specialists and contacts in Italy who can retrieve documents for us. Ciao!