Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Searching for Italian civil records

When I started my research 10 years ago there was a lot less available in internet, very few records had been transcribed and living here on an island limited the chance of visiting a Family History Library to see any of the microfilms from the Italian civil registers of a large part of Italy. (See LDS in helpful links).

After checking out the microfilm numbers from the FHL catalogue I decided to search for a volunteer to look up films in Salt Lake city the principal repository for the full microfilm collection. I was lucky enough to find a marvellous and very kind lady called Carol who willingly spent much of her free time in looking through the Como records for me.

She did a very thorough job and found 3 generations of my family which included births, deaths and marriages. At first she sent me the marriages and a few births but the day an envelope arrived full of death records I felt that someone very close to me had died, it took all day to get rid of that sad sensation. Sadly out of 4 children only 2 had survived those were my Grandfather and his brother.
There was a death certificate for my G grandmother who was only 42 when she died, this is something that whilst translating records for others I find time and time again, the women died young, Annetta as I said was 42, her sister in laws died at 30 and 34, certainly women had a tough time in those days (1890’s)it was not uncommon for the men to remarry, this includes my G G grandfather who married twice.

Luckily there are new records made available to the public every day, the complete register for Como is now online at Ancestry at a price, the LDS (the Family History library) have also started to transcribe the original registers for other areas, at the moment they are preparing to start on the Italian records, however they do have some American census records, Parish records for some areas in UK and the 1891 census for Argentina free (at the moment) online, see the Family history link. These are not the same lists of records that they have on the other website mentioned further up in this posting but here scans of the original documents are available for most of the records mentioned.

I think that within 3 years a large amount of the Italian records will be available to be viewed online, this will be an enormous help to many, helping people who are not sure of the areas their ancestor came from to try and find their roots.

In the majority of Italy the civil registration started when Italy was united in 1866 and the only records available before that year are church records. However there are some areas within Italy that have records that go further back and others that don’t even have records from 1866, this is due to these parts of Italy being part of other countries, mainly Austria. Use a map of Italy for the years your ancestor would have lived there to see where the boundaries were. In a further post I will go into detail about other records that can be requested from the communes in Italy.

I am willing to do look ups in the Como records and translate them for anyone that needs help.


Anonymous said...

Ancestry has some of the Como records, but the records southeast of the lake I(Lecco and north to Primaluna) are not online. You can order them on microfilm from the LDS family history centers. But you have to view the films at one of the centers.

Anonymous said...

It is not quite correct that the Lecco records are not available, Lecco is available on Ancestry together with the Como records at this link

Como and Lecco, Lombardy, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1936 (in Italian)