Italian Ancestors Records and Research

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Once Italian Ancestors online volunteers index a set of digital records, the index will be linked to the digital images and searchable for free at and the Italy National Archives. FamilySearch also has millions of additional indexed Italian records, browsable images, research assistance tools, and instructional videos available at to help you find your ancestors.

Italian Populations In The World

Map showing italian populations in the world

Interesting Dates Influencing Italian Record Keeping


Italian Renaissance. This cultural movement began in Italy and spread to England, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. It was characterized by a revival in ancient Greek and Roman art and philosophy, the development of humanism, and the beginning of modern science.


The Council of Trent required parishes to begin keeping records.


Spain ruled most of Italy.


Treaty of Utrecht ended Spanish rule and established the Austrian Hapsburgs as Italy’s dominant power.


Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France, drove the Austrian rulers from northern Italy.


Napoleon ruled most of Italy. In 1806 he began requiring that civil registration records be kept.


Napoleon was defeated. Most of Italy is returned to its former sovereigns. Civil registration ended in 1815.


A series of revolts, known as the Risorgimento, occurred against local rulers. The rebels sought political unity for Italy. These rebellions were eventually crushed.


Revolts began in every major Italian city opposing Austrian rule. New governments were established. Austria put down the revolts and regained control of the Italian cities. The pope, backed by the French army, won back Roma.


Count Cavour, prime minister of the Kingdom of Sardegna, and Napoleon III of France signed a defense agreement. To maintain its Italian holdings, Austria declared war on the Kingdom of Sardegna. French and Italian troops defeated the Austrians. Much of northern Italy was united under the Kingdom of Sardegna.


Giuseppe Garibaldi freed Sicilia, southern Italy, and the city of Napoli from the French.


After a nationwide vote, the Kingdom of Italy was formed with Vittorio Emmanuele II as king. The kingdom united all of Italy except the city of Roma, the region of Venezia, and the country of San Marino.


In exchange for Venezia, Italy supported Prussia in its war against Austria. A month later, Prussia defeated Austria, and Venezia became part of the Kingdom of Italy. Civil registration became law.


The Franco-Prussian War forced France to withdraw its troops from Roma. Italian troops conquered all of Roma except for the Vatican. The capital of Italy moves from Torino to Roma.


After a war with Turkey, Italy gained Eritrea, Italian Somaliland, and Tripoli.


Italy sided with the Allies in World War I and gained Trentino and Trieste from Austria-Hungary.


King Victor Emmanuel III made Benito Mussolini the premier of Italy. By 1925 Mussolini reigned as dictator.


Italy conquered Ethiopia. Italy and Germany agreed to be allies if war were to break out. Italy conquered Albania. Italy entered World War II on Germany’s side. Italians voted to establish a Republican form of government.


Italy signed a peace treaty at the end of World War II. As part of the treaty, Italy gave up its African empire (Libya, Italian Somaliland, and Eritrea), gave the Dodecanese Islands to Greece, and gave Albania its independence. Trieste was made a free territory that was divided into two zones under Anglo-American and Yugoslav control. Minor changes were made to the French-Italian border.


Trieste was given to Italy in a treaty with Yugoslavia.








Famous Italians

Dante Alighieri, detail from Luca Signorelli's fresco, Chapel of San Brizio, Orvieto Cathedral.
Dante Alighieri, detail from Luca Signorelli's fresco, Chapel of San Brizio, Orvieto Cathedral.
Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo. There are no known authentic portraits of Columbus.
Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo. There are no known authentic portraits of Columbus.
Self-portrait in red chalk, circa 1512 to 1515.
Portrait of Michelangelo by Jacopino del Conte (after 1535) at the age of 60.
Giovanni Caselli.
Francesco Cirio.
Giacomo Puccini.
Jacuzzi Family
Andrea Bocelli
Michael Bublé
Samuel Alito
Samuel Alito
Manu Ginóbili
Lionel Messi

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