Italy Military Records
Military records identify individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for service. From 1865 on, all young men were required to serve in or register for military service in Italy. Evidence that an ancestor actually served may be found in family records, biographies, census, probate records, civil registration, and church records.
Church records and civil registration records have much the same information as military records, and they are usually easier to access. However, you must know the name of a town before you can search them.
If you do not know the name of a town, provincial military records can identify a man’s birthplace. Even if you know only the region, you can check the records of all military districts within the region.
In some regions, military records begin about 1792 and give information about the man’s military career, such as promotions, places served, pensions, and conduct. They also usually include information about his age, birthplace, residence, occupation, physical description, and family members.
Conscription of all males at the age of eighteen was instituted in 1865. Every Italian male—even those obviously disabled—was and still is required to report to the draft board for a physical exam. Therefore, draft records list every native Italian male who was born from about 1850 to the present and do who did not leave the country at an early age.
Military Records of Genealogical Value
The military records that are most useful to family history researchers are described below.
Conscription Records [registro di leva]. These records list all males by year of birth and provide the name, parents’ names, place of residence, birth date and place, vocation, literacy, and physical description. They also show the draft board’s decision regarding the draftee’s fitness for service. If the draftee had emigrated, the date and destination are noted.
Draftee Curriculum of Service Record [registro dei fogli matricolari]. These records include details of the young man’s military service, including such items as promotions.
Discharge Records [foglio di congedo illimitato]. These records prove a soldier’s discharge from military service. They include birth information, parents’ names, physical description, vocation, and educational information. They also give information regarding the date and place of draft, length of service, transfers, campaigns, medals, and wounds. One copy was given to the soldier, and one copy was kept in his file.
Service Records [registro di ruolo]. These also contain details of the man’s military service.
Finding Military Records
Italian military records are kept by military districts. The archive of the military district stores the records. Most military districts are within the geographical boundaries of a province. A province can have up to three military districts, and in rare cases a military district may encompass two provinces.
A copy of the records is held at the archive of the tribunale (court). After 75 years, this copy is moved to the provincial archives and made available to the public. Each provincial archive has the records of the military district within its provincial boundaries.
Military records can be of great genealogical value, and the Family History Library has begun to microfilm them. As of this publication, the library has the following records:
- Parma, 1820–1915
- Cosenza, 1842–1901
- Catania, 1840–1913
- Torino, 1875–1910
To find Italian military records in the Family History Library Catalog, check the Locality Search under:
ITALY - [PROVINCE] - MILITARY RECORDS
You can also write to the provincial archives for information. See the "Archives and Libraries" section of this outline for more information.