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Friday, June 7, 2013

Italian Onsite Research Demystified

Last Saturday I attended a superb presentation by Mary Tedesco at the Italian Genealogical Society of America June meeting held at the National Archives in Waltham. Mary is a professional genealogist who specializes in Italian research. She shared her extensive knowledge of Italian research strategies in a presentation on onsite research in Italian repositories. Below are some of the highlights on Italian onsite research from Mary’s presentation:
  • Italian civil genealogical records are held either at the town/city level or at the state level.
    • Town/city level records are kept at the town or city hall (municipio) at the General Registry Office (Ufficio Anagrafe) and the Vital Records Office (Ufficio di Stato Civile). In addition to census records, which are taken every ten years, the General Registry Office holds the certificate of the Original Status of the Family (Certificato di Stato di Famiglia Originario), an important document which contains date and location information on birth, marriage, and death for members of a family group. The certificate also indicates the dates of emigration from Italy for family members. The Vital Records Office contains civil records of birth, marriage, and death.
    • State-level records are held at the State Archives (Archivi di Stato) in each province. The holdings at the state level vary from province to province, and may include civil, military, notarial, hospital, and church records. An online catalog for state-level archival holdings is available at http://www.archivi-sias.it/index.asp.
  • Churches hold archival records, including annual censuses (Stato D’Anima). Some Church records date back to the 1500’s. Other sources of genealogical information for the Italian researcher are local libraries (biblioteche) and cemeteries (cimiteri). Although cemetery plots in Italy are generally rented for a thirty-year period, the cemetery office may keep burial records for a longer period.
  • Letters for research requests should always be written in Italian. A recommendation for guidelines to follow is Lynn Nelson’s A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Italian Roots, which presents excellent examples of the types of letters to mail to various Italian repositories.
Mary also provided information about eligibility for Italian/American dual citizenship and encouraged the audience to determine their eligibility and pursue Italian citizenship if the option is available. She concluded her excellent presentation with encouragement to take the plunge into Italian onsite research and to share success stories with her. Mary can be contacted through her website at http://www.originsitaly.com or by email at progenitore@gmail.com.

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