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Overview of Italian Records

Record keeping in Italy tends to reflect the time period more so than many other countries. Due to the fact of it's many invasions there are various types of records available. You must also remember that today's Italy is not what it was in 1800. Records can vary from northern to southern areas even region to region.

Modern Italian records were brought about during the Napoleonic era. Record keeping became more standardized through out Italy. You will still find differences in the earlier years. Some may be kept on printed forms and others handwritten. When researching Southern Italy You may find very clear and informative printed records as early as 1809. In the north they will still be hand written until about 1815. But until 1860-70 you will still not find uniformity in record keeping. An exception to the dates above are Bolzano and Trento 16th century to present

Records are kept in the town hall by the town's ufficiale dello stato civile It is his responsibility to make sure all events are recorded as required by law. A second copy is sent to  Archivio di Stato. These records are not allowed by law to be seen by the public until they are over 75 years. A person or family member may view their own.

When requesting such records after 1860, asking for an extract rather than a certificate will furnish much more information. You may find parents names, witness's etc. depending on the records requested.

Records kept before these time frames usually mean a search of Church records. These records are not as informative or as accurate as those described above. These are kept in the local parish where they were originally written. In order for you to find these records you must know the comune and the church. This is easy when the comune is small and has one church. It becomes difficult when there is more than one church for the area. Or several small comunes use one central church which may or may not be in the same town.

Stato Civile = Vital Records

These records include birth, death and marriage, starting around 1860-70 have been kept by standards set by Italian laws.

Atto di Nascita = Birth Records

Those born in Italy will find these records in the town hall in which they were born. It is required to present and record a child's birth within a day of it's birth. These records should contain Parents names and sometimes Grandparents.

Atto della Solenne Prommessa di Celebrare il Matrimonio = Marriage Records

Earlier marriage records were much more involved than the later ones. Due to the sanctity, beliefs and tradition, marriages were a long drawn out event. Publishing of the 3 Banns which required official notification to the public of the up coming event. Documents including church and civil needed to be presented to both Church and Civil officers before the vows could take place. These can be a goldmine of information as sometimes contain siblings, parents, cousins and other witness's. They also help prove birth, Baptism, Confirmation and place of residence.

Certificato di Morte = Death

Death records are very short with little information. They contain age, time and place of death and parents.

Certificato di Residenza = Certificate of Residency

This is another very interesting record which can offer much reward. It tells where a person lives and records any moves or changes of residence a person makes. This is required to receive a carta d'identita an identification card all citizen are required to carry. If you get stuck and can't find a record check here and you may find the person moved from the area at the time.

Certificato di stato di Famiglia = Certificate of Family Status

This very unusual certificate is also a boon for genealogist. It contains information on the family unit as a whole. Some towns started keeping this type of record as early as 1870 but was not common until 1911. This record truly reflects the Italian belief in family. It will contain information on each member. Grandparents, Parents, siblings, Births, deaths, marriages in usually chronological order.

Military and Conscription

Military records "foglio matricolare" records begin around 1870. All male italian citizens are required to register at age 18. Information contained in them might include name, date of birth, present address, parents and next of kin names. They also may contain types of service and records of such. There are exceptions, police officers do not have to register.

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