Finding Your Italian Ancestors

Finding Your Italian Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide is an exceptional handbook to Italian research. This guide was written primarily for an American audience researching their Italian ancestry. The book is clear and easy to read; well organized and thoughtfully laid out; and  full of sample documents, pictures, maps, and tables. Readers will have an easy time following the author’s intent for each chapter, being led from the basics of genealogical research and organization to tracing immigrant ancestors back to family ties in the old country.

The book goes beyond listing resources and suggesting websites or archives for research. Instead, this handbook, uses images, charts, and sample to not only help the reader find information, but to also be able to read and interpret resources. When Suzanne Russo Adams, the author, discusses using city directories, she actually includes an example. She also has samples of marriage, death, birth and other civil records. Pages 96 and 97 have charts demonstrating common handwriting forms for each letter from the 1500s to the early 1900s. The list of samples goes on and on. Adams took great care in making sure the reader will not only find the records they are looking for, but will also be able to read and interpret them.

As with any modern handbook for the genealogist, the author did not forget to include a chapter on researching one’s Italian Ancestors over the Internet. The chapter covers both American and Italian resources, noting those which are in Italian. The book is topped off with a short glossary of common terms, occupations, as well as dates and numbers. If your are new to genealogy and have Italian ancestry then this book is for you. Even if you are an experienced family historian, if your are new to Italian research, especially resources in Italy, then this book will greatly help you make the transition across the Atlantic.


Table of Contents



1 Getting Started

  • Write Down What You Know
  • Home Sources
  • Ask Family Members for Information
  • What’s Already Been Done?
  • Decide What You Want to Know
  • Find the Records
    • Locate It
    • Evaluate It
    • Document It
  • Organize Your Research
  • Suggestions for Italian Research
    • Know Your Locality
    • Understand Naming Customs
    • Learn About the Language
    • Research One Generation at a Time
    • Search for Entire Families
    • Broaden Your Searches
    • Look for Spelling Variations
    • Use Available Indexes

2 Beginning Your Search in the United States

  • Census Records
    • Where to Find Census Records
    • Neighbors or Family?
    • Tips for Understanding Italian Names in Census Records
  • Immigration and Naturalization Records
    • Passenger Lists
    • Passport Applications
    • Naturalization Records
    • Alien Registration Records
  • WWI Draft Registrations
    • Where to Find WWI Draft Registration Records
  • Other Military Sources
  • Other Records
    • Local Town, County, and State Resources
    • Vital Records
    • Biographies and Local Histories
    • Voter Registrations
    • Records in County Courthouses
    • City Directories
    • Fraternal and Mutual Aide Society Records
    • Parish Records
    • Cemetery Records
    • Historical Newspapers and Obituaries

3 Finding Your Place of Origin

  • Political Jurisdictions
  • Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions
  • Identifying Your Place of Origin
    • Maps, Atlases, and Gazetteers
    • Surnames
  • Learning More About a Location
    • Finding Records for a Location at the Family History Library
    • Go Online to Learn More About a Location

4 Italian Civil Records: 1866 to the Present

  • Where to Find Civil Records
  • Indexes to Civil Records
  • Civil Birth Records
  • Civil Marriage Records
    • Marriage Banns
    • Marriage Files
    • Marriage Records
    • Search Strategies for Marriage Records
  • Civil Death Records
  • Other Civil Records

5 Pre-Unification Civil Records

  • Stato Civile Borbonico Birth Records
  • Stato Civile Borbonico Marriage Records

6 Ecclesiastical Records

  • Finding Your Parish
  • Parish Baptismal Records
  • Parish Marriage Records
    • Canonical Impediments to Marriage
  • Parish Death Records
  • Other Parish Records
    • Catholic Diocesan Archives (Archivi Diocesani)
  • Other Ecclesiastical Records
    • Eastern Orthodox (Chiesa Ortodossa or Chiesa Greca)
    • Jewish
    • Waldensian

7 Reading the Records

  • Understand the Languages You May Encounter
  • Familiarize Yourself with the Record
  • Focus on the Handwriting
  • Learn to Recognize Abbreviations
  • Extra Tips

8 Records in Italian Archives

  • Military Records
    • Conscription Lists
    • Draftee Curriculum of Service Record
    • Discharge Papers
  • Tax Lists and Censuses
  • Passports
  • Notary Acts
  • University and School Records
  • Preparing to Visit the Archives
    • Accessing Records at the Archives

9 Researching Italian Ancestors Online

  • General Genealogy Websites
  • History and Culture Websites
  • Research Websites
  • Surnames, Geography, and Map Websites
  • Civil and Church Repositories in Italy
  • More Italian Genealogy Websites
  • Groups and Societies

Appendix A: Glossary

  • Glossary of General Terms
  • Glossary of Occupations
  • Glossary of Dates and Numbers

Appendix B: Timeline of Italian History

Appendix C: Sample Letters

Appendix D: Societies

Appendix E: Research Sources



To order a copy of Finding Your Italian Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide please visit Family Roots Publishing; Item #: TP241.