If you have Italian ancestry, you’ve come to the right place! Our experts and onsite agents can help you locate the records you need to extend your family lines.
Using Records to Trace Italian Ancestry
If you have Italian ancestry you might count yourself fairly lucky in the genealogy department. Not only does Italy have records dating back several hundred years for some areas (the Council of Trent required priests to start keeping records of births, marriages, and deaths in 1563, but some parishes began as early as the 1300s and others didn’t comply until closer to 1600), their records are some of the most detailed as well. Roman Catholic Church records (the predominant religion) often include detailed information about the parents – and sometimes even grandparents – of the person the record is for. Sometimes records even include notes in the margin about other events and dates regarding that person. For example, a baptism record might include a note in the margin about the later marriage, emigration, and/or death of that individual.
Italian Church Records
As with most countries, there aren’t national indexes to Italian genealogy records, so it’s important to know specifically what town (or parish) your ancestors were from. If this information is unknown you’ll first need to look at records created in their later years to learn where they lived when they were in Italy. Once the specific town is known, records can be searched in that location. Civil Registration didn’t begin until around 1809-1820, so church records are usually the best source for ancestors born before that time. Of course various wars, natural disasters, non-ideal storage conditions and other factors have caused some of the early records to be lost or destroyed over time, so it’s possible that the original copies of the records you need won’t be available. However, if you locate a parish church and find out that their records were lost or destroyed – don’t despair yet! Around 1900 (in some places even earlier) most churches made copies of their records and sent them to the diocesan archives, so you may be able to find a copy there even when the original no longer exists.
Our Team of Professional Genealogists Can Help
While church and civil registration records can be the most efficient way of tracing your Italian family history, other sources like census, military and notarial records can help fill in gaps and additional details as well. If your ancestors were a religion other than Roman Catholic, tracing them can be more difficult but is usually still doable. For example, Jewish families generally kept their own records of births, marriages, and deaths until civil registration began, so most of those are not available anymore and other records will need to be used to trace Jewish Italian ancestry. Our experts and onsite agents are experienced at tracking down all kinds of Italian family history records in a variety of locations, and can help you extend your Italian ancestry as far back as records will allow.