Genealogy Research in Italy

What is Genealogy?

ancestorsOften it is important to know where we come from, for a fuller sense of direction in life, in participating to a larger general design. All those who contributed to our genetical map are in a certain sense still living inside ourselves, wherever their physical existence took place.
The research of our roots is both genetic and cultural: from the dusty, crumbling papers of documents people who belong to what we now are come out of the mist of time and look at us silently, affectionately, waiting for someone to decipher their documents, rescue them from oblivion and pass their otherwise forgotten names and stories on to the next generations.

A Starting Guide

Genealogy, as all researchers know, needs imagination, that special feeling that there must be something somewhere, and just the right stone must be moved, the right person interviewed, to connect the missing link. Find here a genealogy research guide - online since 1998, a tutorial on how to start your genealogy research, collect information and research ancestors, details on where records can be found in Italy and more.

Things to Know...

  • First of all... you MUST know that you may become addicted to genealogy!
  • Secondly, you'll have to work hard on it! No matter how much you ultimately pay if you entrust a researcher with the archive work, you'll have to work on it to collect information, assemble, reconstruct and connect.
  • Thirdly, be ready to say it's enough - You must realize that sooner or later research will stop, because no more records will be available, or expected results very scanty.
  • Last, but not least... Do not expect to find a Baron waiting for you in the mist of the Middle Ages: the "aristocracy" was statistically a very small percentage of the population and often a very bad beast, exploiting the blood and sweat of the poor, religious, courageous and illiterate peasants that were the ancestors of most of us. It was them that kept the traditions, wrote the songs, passed on the recipes and for whom the frescoes in the churches were made. Most European aristocracy is extinct, because of genetic faults of marriages, while the great-grandchildren of the "bracciali" and "cafoni" are studying in the colleges, obtaining awards, writing poems, raising beautiful kids that will reach the stars and who knows what else.

Other Genealogy Sections

  • How to start your genealogy research in Italy, also in the Italian Version: La Ricerca Genealogica
  • Italian citizenship: The law of 1992, its relevance for descendants of Italians, and the prerequisites to obtain or reinstate Italian citizenship.
  • White Pages: A guide on how to use the Italian white pages to find presence of surnames and possible relatives, addresses of townhalls, parishes and more.
  • Italian surnames: how surnames developed, Lists of Italian surnames divided by place, useful to check spelling and statistics, and the etymological origin of many surnames.
  • Antenati Portal: Resources online in the repository of Italian archives, divided by province, period and place.
  • Records available: Visit our databases of civil records divided by province (mostly about Abruzzo and Molise).
  • Catasti Onciari: List of family and property censuses of the former Kingdom of Naples (year 1742-1755) divided by ancient provinces.
  • Italian state archives: List of Italian Province archives with links to their current websites, for updated information on opening times, inventories of documents preserved, contact details.
  • Notary records: An introduction to research in ancient notary deeds, especially dowry assignments and wills, and their significance in genealogy research in the centuries before the civil records were established, or whenever parish books should not be available.
  • Genealogy Forums: Over 100,000 messages collected since 1998, categorized by region and province, where you might find messages of other visitors working on family history who "left their message in the bottle", or post your own message.
  • Postings Archive: Over 30,000 archived messages, posted since 1998, categorized by province.
  • Articles on genealogy: To learn more on family heraldry and specialised research fields.
  • Fees and Estimates: A brief sketch of possible expenses to take into account in genealogy research.
  • Free Estimate: Send your request for genealogy research in Abruzzo and Molise, the regions where our team is active.

Further Resources

  • Lists of the over Italian Communes, with link to the webpages if available, or to the province and region where the commune presently belongs. The commune is the ultimate repository of all civil records since 1809 for the former Kingdom of Naples, and since the unity of Italy (1861) for all places, and the authority that releases citizenship documents.
  • Lists of the over 35,000 Italian frazioni and smaller localities, with link to the commune, province and region where the frazione currently belongs.
  • Stemmario Italiano, a collection of coat of arms of Italian families which also includes free registration of newly established emblems.
  • Various Genealogy links