August 8, 2019
My grandmother first ignited the genealogy bug in me unknowingly. My grandfather died long before I was born, and I was always curious as to what kind of person he was. My grandmother was the sweetest person I knew (aren’t most grandmothers!), and I wondered who stole her heart and kept it (she never remarried or dated). So my journey began.
I knew I was Italian on my father’s side. Questioning my father, I learned a lot about his side of the family. When I discovered the exact town my grandfather came from, it was time to delve into Italian records. That’s the trick to researching records in Italy—finding the town of origin—because there is no central location with all the records a genealogist needs.
In order to do this, you need to research any and all records of your immigrant ancestor (in my case, my grandfather) in the country they settled (in my case, the United States). I found my grandfather’s Italian home in his church marriage record to my grandmother. With that knowledge, I was off and running to Italian civil registration records to find his birth record and more ancestors.
Now I admit—I don’t speak Italian. So, at first glance, looking at records in a foreign language can be daunting. The trick (here’s another one) is that most civil registration records have a pattern, and once you figure out that pattern, you can extract the information you need. A good foreign language dictionary or translation software program can help as well.
In addition, the Midwest Genealogy Center offers a class called Finding Your Italian Ancestors: Italian Civil Registration Records, which gives you a foundation for researching these records. The Library has many resources (dictionaries, how-to books, etc.) that can assist you. Check the online catalog to find books on Italian research.
Good luck! In bocca al lupo!
Midwest Genealogy Center
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