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Step 1: Find the place of birth

To start researching your family history, you need place and date of birth of an ancestor. This section will examine the possibilities you have to discover the municipality of origin of your ancestor, when the date of birth is known.

You don't know the place of birth

You have the date of birth of an ancestor. One of the following documents (which someone among your relatives may also have...) might give you the place of origin.
  • An extract of death, to be requested from the administration (county etc) where your relative deceased.
  • An immigration manifesto or naturalization paper: there are many websites and sources on the web and more are being added every day just to allow this research.
  • An extract of marriage, to be requested from the local administration or church where the marriage was celebrated.

The Abovesaid Documents Cannot be Found

You can proceed to search where your ancestor's surname appears in Italy. Consider that Northern Italy and Rome were also favourite destinations of emigrants from the former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Check where the surname you are researching appears nowadays in Italy. Before that, you can also print a province maps and write in the municipalities the "surname score" (how many surnames in that municipality) - the highest score will strongly point towards a place of origin.
  • Search through the Italian white pages specifying the province: results that will give you municipalities, and it will be possible to establish where the surname is more frequent.
  • Search through our lists of surnames divided by place for a cue to the correct spelling.

Uncertain of Surname Spelling, Municipality or Province

» Check our lists of Comuni and Frazioni. It is possible what your parents or grandparents remembered and told you has changed now. Places that were municipalities in the past may now be included in another municipality, and some municipalities have changed province when new provinces as Rieti, Pescara or Isernia were established. Also a new region was formed (Molise), which was previously one with Abruzzo.

Only the Province or Area is Known, your Ancestor is a Man

» Our suggestion is to research through 3 consecutive years in the conscription and military lists (Liste di Leva and Fogli Matricolari) in a province (mandamento), and note all the names that match your ancestor's (some name+surname combinations may be very common). Often the date of request of passport (if emigration was not illegal) and residence abroad were also noted on the documents - With this procedure however you must know either names of parents or day and month of birth, to be sure you have the right person.

Only the Province or Area is Known, your Ancestor is a Woman

» This might be quite a problem but...
A thorough search through all possible Internet and archive sources might give some results. Another option is post the terms of your research giving all possible information on messageboards and guestbooks targeted to your area.