Italian Genealogy Research—How to Find Italian Records

October 16, 2018  - by 
Italian records and your genealogy

Written by Suzanne Russo Adams and Joel Cole

If you are struggling with Italian genealogy research, take heart! Many record collections from Italy have now been microfilmed, digitized, and published online for free, so you have a good chance of finding information about your Italian ancestors.

In Italy, most records are created locally, so it is important to first find where your ancestors lived. The best resources for discovering your Italian heritage are Italian civil records and Italian Catholic parish records from your ancestors’ home town. Learn more about these vital records and how to find them online.

 

Italian Civil Records

FamilySearch.org and the Italian government have gone to great lengths to digitize, preserve, and make accessible millions of Italian birth, marriage, and death records. Using an ancestor’s name and place of origin to search these collections can help you find much more information about your Italian ancestors.

How to Find Italian Civil Records Online

  • FamilySearch Italy Research Page. This Italy research page has a list of all the indexed Italian collections available on FamilySearch.org, a list of image-only Italian collections, and a list of major Italian collections in the FamilySearch catalog. The records available on this page will largely be from Italian courthouses, municipalities, and state archives.
  • FamilySearch Catalog. The FamilySearch catalog has some Italian civil record collections that you might not find on the Italy research page. You can search by a location in Italy to see what area collections are available.
  • Portale Antenati (English, Italian). This family history website is sponsored by the Italian government to give access to Italian civil records digitized at the State Archives.

Historic Italian culture and Italian record research

The History behind Italian Civil Records

Civil record-taking in Italy has a long history. Currently, records from the following periods (and others) are being made available.

Napoleonic Civil Registration

(Stato Civile Napoleonico—SCN, 1806–1815)

Napoleon introduced civil record keeping in Italy as early as 1806 in some areas, and this record keeping was strongly enforced until he was taken out of power in 1815. Thus, the Napoleonic records, as a general rule, are from the time period 1806–1815.

Civil Registration During the Restoration

(Stato Civile d’ella Restaurazione—SCR, 1815–1865)

This period is sometimes also called “Stato Civile Borbonico” (at least in southern Italy) because the Bourbon king Ferdinando I of the Kingdom of Naples dictated changes to Napoleon’s civil records and how they should be kept. Although Napoleonic-style civil registration had been introduced to Southern Italy and the Kingdom of Naples in 1809, the Bourbons reintroduced it in 1816. This style of record keeping was not adopted in Sicily until 1820.

Italian civil registation record

Enzo Ferrari’s birth act, an example of an Italian civil record, is depicted here. See ‘N. 287.’

Italian Civil Registration

(Stato Civile Italiano—SCI, 1866–present)

In 1866, Italian civil records began to be kept more uniformly throughout Italy. In this year, the Stato Civile Italiano (or the records of the Italian government) officially began.

The records of Italy before 1866 were generally in handwritten form because printed forms were not always provided. Around 1875, printed forms were prevalent, and many of the names of jurisdictions in Italy began to change. The province of Rome did not begin keeping records until 1871.

Italian Catholic Parish Records

Catholic parish records from Italy are harder to find online, but the parish records often extend much farther back than Italian civil records.

Italian family and genealogy research

Ever since the Council of Trento decided in 1565 that parish priests should keep a record of the baptisms, marriages, and deaths of all their parishioners, faithful clergy have been keeping these records. In every city, town, village or hamlet in Italy that has a parish, the Catholic Church has kept a record of the births, deaths, and marriages of almost every Italian since at least the early 1600s. Since most early Italian families did not often move to other places, you can often find four centuries of Italian genealogy and family history in one parish.

As mentioned, limited Italian Catholic parish records are available online. You can find some of these records by searching the FamilySearch catalog, but more records may be available at some family history centers, since not all have been digitized yet. Learn more about finding Italian church records on the FamilySearch wiki.

Other Useful Resources for Italian Records Research


Want to learn more about your Italian roots? Visit “Your Italian Heritage” on the FamilySearch blog.

Italian Heritage

An overview of your Italian heritage and genealogy research

Italian heritage and genealogy

Italy Emigration

A history of Italian immigrants and immigration records

How to research your Italian genealogy

Italian Last Names

Common Italian last names and their origins and meanings

Learn about your Italian last name and its meaning

Italian Dual Citizenship

Italian heritage and dual citizenship laws

Italian heritage and dual citizenship

Italian Records

How to find and use Italian genealogy records

Italian heritage and genealogy records research

 

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Comments

  1. Hi, I’m looking for mi great great grand mother’s father. His name was Abraham Luchini (maybe Lucchini) and he was born in Paderno Dugnano, Italy, around 1859 (approx) in Milano. I can’t find any record. I’d appreciate any help. Thank you!

    1. Hi Tamara
      This is all i could find that Mathces your ancestor:

      NAME: Abraham Luchini
      GENDER: männlich (Male)
      NATIONALITY: Italien
      RESIDENCE AGE: 33
      RECORD TYPE: Miscellaneous
      BIRTH DATE: 10 1909
      BIRTH PLACE: Condino
      LAST RESIDENCE: Condino Italien
      SOJOURN START DATE: 19 März 1942
      RESIDENCE PLACE: Degerndorf, Rosenheim
      SOJOURN END DATE: 20 Sept 1942
      REFERENCE NUMBER: 02010101 oS
      DOCUMENT ID: 70202335

      Looks like this is your Ancestor
      I found it on Ancestry.com

  2. Je cherche des renseignements sur luigi Malvisi ne en Italie a grapparello en 1880 qui a immigre en France .merci

    Google Translate – French to English: I’m looking for information on luigi Malvisi ne in Italy a grapparello in 1880 who immigrated to France .thank you

    1. Hi Malvisi! Thank you for your research question. Please check out the FREE Virtual Research Strategy Sessions where you can schedule time with a specialist to help you on any family history question you may have. You can also connect with other FamilySearch users who may be able to help you, by joining the FamilySearch Community. Good luck and thank you for reading the blog!

      Google Translate – English to French: Salut Malvisi! Merci pour votre question de recherche. Veuillez consulter les Sessions de stratégie de recherche virtuelle gratuites où vous pouvez planifier du temps avec un spécialiste pour vous aider sur toute question d’histoire familiale que vous pourriez avoir. Vous pouvez également vous connecter avec d’autres utilisateurs de FamilySearch susceptibles de vous aider en rejoignant la Communauté FamilySearch . Bonne chance et merci d’avoir lu le blog!

  3. Does Suzanne Russo Adams offer any online courses? I am at the beginning stages of using Ancestry.com to trace my family. I am finding names and dates but so very much hope to find stories and pictures as well.

  4. je suis née en France mais de nationalité italienne devenue francaise a 6 ans
    pour prouver ma nationalité ititalienne comme certificat ou faut il l avoir merci car je voudrais la nationilé d italienne

    Google Translate – French to English: I was born in France but of Italian nationality who became French at 6 years old
    to prove my Italian nationality as a certificate or you have to have it thank you because I would like the Italian nationality

  5. Hey! I am trying to find out about the origin
    of my last name. I was heard that it was Italian. My last name is Donadelle Can you please help? Thank you.

    1. Hello Kamilah, It is most likely that the actual spelling is Donadelli. Have you found your ancestor on a passenger list or other record that has different spellings?

  6. I need help. Where do I go for the following? I’m trying to locate my grand father. I’m not sure if his last or first name is vimcenzo. He is from the small area of Calangianus, Sardinia Italy. He was hired to work in Straubenhardt, Germany. The year was sometime before 1965. He was working at a clothing store called Kolb. I heard he specialized in leather but fitted clothing.
    Dates: 1960s

  7. Hi, I’m looking for the marriage records of Verona city before 1806.
    Is it possible to fin it on an online surface? I am looking for the marriage of Antonio Tacconi and Rosa Crescimben(?) Thanks