Some answers to frequently asked questions about how you can reconstruct your past and trace your roots.

All the answers

The indispensable sources are generally of two types: private ones, therefore personal memories, oral stories handed down from generation to generation, family archives including documents, letters and photographs; the public ones, also called 'serial', present in the various state, regional, provincial, municipal and ecclesiastical archives.

If you would like to find out more about your Italian ancestry based on your last name, here are some steps you could take:

Gather all available documents:

Look for the birth, marriage and death certificates of your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. These documents can contain valuable information about your origins, such as place of birth and important dates.

Talk to elderly relatives: Elderly family members may have memories or stories passed down orally that could help you in your research. Ask them questions about family history and ancestors.

Family photos: Family photographs may provide visual clues, such as places or events, that may relate to your family's Italian origins.

Family correspondence: Letters , diaries and other written documents can contain details about family origins, such as place of birth and important dates.

To trace your family roots, there are several documents that may be helpful. The availability of these documents may vary depending on the historical period and geographical region.

Birth, marriage and death certificates: These official documents are often kept in civil registry offices or State Archives. They contain important information such as names of parents, spouses, dates and places of birth, marriage and death.

Parish registers: Much genealogical information is kept in church registers, such as baptisms, marriages and burials. These records can date back as far as the 16th century.

Censuses: National or local censuses provide information on family composition, occupations, and other details about daily life. Censuses are usually conducted periodically.

Immigration Records: If your ancestors moved from one country to another, immigration records can provide important information, such as date of arrival, place of departure, and occupation .

Wills and Probate Deeds: These documents can provide details about how property and assets were distributed among family members after an individual's death.

Family Photographs: Photographs can be invaluable to identify people and reconstruct family history.

Family correspondence: Letters, diaries, and other written documents can contain details about daily life, family events, and relationships.

Military records: If your ancestors served military, military records may contain information about their service, rank and position.

Naturalization Records: If your ancestors became citizens of a country other than the country of birth, naturalization records can provide details about this process.

Family stories: Talk to the older members of your family to gather stories, anecdotes and traditions that could help you in your research.

Research on an ancestor must always start from some known data, possibly at least the name or surname. The more elements of knowledge you have (birth, death, marriage, places, dates, etc.) the more chances you will have of finding what you are looking for.

To carry out a search in the civil status documentation it is necessary to know, in addition to the year, also the place of origin. In the absence of other clues, it is advisable to try to identify in which municipalities a particular surname is widespread.

Of course, there are several websites that offer resources for genealogy research. Here are some of the best known:

Ancestors: Allows the user to consult free digital reproductions of civil status registers, military service lists, matriculation rolls and other genealogical and personal documents, kept by individuals Italian State Archives.

FamilySearch: A free site operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), offering access to a large collection of family history records from around the world.

CISEI: has various databases containing information on millions of Italian migrants.

By entering the person's data you will be able to know the date, place of departure and destination, and have information on movements, sea journeys and on accompanying family members. In the luckiest cases even read a short story of the migratory experience.

Yes, in the State and Diocesan Archives. Reservations and - in some Diocesan Archives - an access fee are often required. As regards documents stored in parishes and municipalities, those responsible for documents act differently from case to case.

Talk to Close Family Members: Start by talking to the family members closest to you, such as parents, grandparents or uncles. Ask them for information about more distant relatives, including names, locations and any contacts they may have.

Use Social Media: Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be used to search for your relatives' names and make contact . Many people use social media to stay in touch with distant relatives.

Here are some steps you could take to search for your ancestral home:

Documents and records:
- Consult family documents, such as birth, marriage and death certificates, which may contain clues to residency.
- An important resource is also the land register, the consultation of which however requires a certain level of familiarity.

Collect family information:

- Ask elderly relatives or family members if they have information about the location of the ancestral home.
- Look for family photos that can show the home or provide clues to its location.

Visit the location:
- If possible, visit the location where it is thought that your ancestors lived. Ask elderly residents if they have any information about your family.

Historical photos and maps:
- Examine historical photos and maps of the area to identify any changes in the urban or rural landscape over the years.

Request assistance from municipal offices
- Contact municipal offices to obtain information on the history of the area and to request assistance with research.

If you know the place of death of your ancestor, go to the municipal cemetery. Cemeteries often have offices that can help you find the location of a grave. If they are not present in the cemetery, go to the municipality and ask the office in charge of cemetery services.
The cemetery or municipal staff may have registers or maps indicating the location of the graves. Give them all the information you have about your ancestor. There are also technological tools, such as the Aldilàpp app, in which the paper archives of the cemeteries of the Municipalities that have decided to join this important innovation can be consulted in digital form.
However, given the management policies of the cemeteries in Italy, often the oldest burials (over 80 years old) have been abandoned with the remains transferred to common ossuaries.


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