Are you afraid to continue your LDS family search in Italy, or another foreign country? Although the prospect of taking a research trip to Italy may be scary at first, with a bit of patience and diligence, you may find that your trip is not only interesting, but fun as well. Searching through historical family records is easier in the United States, with the wide array of informational records and documents available over the Internet. Although there may be very few Italian records available online, more and more records are being added daily.
Gather Information before Your Trip
Before you begin your LDS family search in Italy, it is vitally important to acquaint yourself with your distant family members living in the United States. The more you know about your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, no matter how distant, etc., the easier your Italian research will become. The United States records will tell you where your relatives for several generations lived in years past. Once you have all your information compiled examine it closely, because knowing where your Italian ancestors lived will give you a starting point for your Italian research.
It is also important to know your family’s city of origin before you begin your LDS family search in Italy. The reason this is so important is that Italian records are kept in each city, with much older documentation kept in the state archives sorted by providence. There are no central records in Italy for genealogists to review for their family trees. Once you know your ancestor’s birth places and when they immigrated to the United States, as well as information such as their names, occupations and so forth you will have a reference point from which to start planning your research trip to Italy.
When you start your research, you automatically think of looking on the Internet for information about your family history. If your Ancestors came from either Sicily, or Southern Italy, you are likely to have a very good chance of finding the information you need because many people are posting their genealogical findings online. There are two ways you can find information about your family if you are unsure of the city or town they originally came from. If you know the province that your ancestors lived in, you can search for surnames from that province or region, by visiting the surnames in Italy website. Simply change the first words in the address to surnames in said region or province. Once you have executed the search, you can click on the list of surnames on the left side of your screen. This web page gives you a list of all the people who lived in that particular province. This web site also has more information and links to other such resources. You can view this site in either Italian or English. Another great source is the towns in Italy website which will take you to various web sites for most of the Italian cities. Each town’s web site has information about the town itself, and photos that can help you in your LDS family search. Google Translator, or Bing translator are great tools that will translate these sites into English to make them easier to read.
Here is a place to begin your research now that you have as much family information as you can get from family members and other online resources. Visit the Family history library’s web site, where the Church of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as LDS has online listings of books, microfilms, and other material containing information for the city or town you wish to learn more about. The information that you need to find in the vital records located at the civil registration includes: dates and places of birth, marriages, deaths, parents, grandparents names, occupations, ages, and places where they lived. This catalogue can be found under the heading ALibrary@. LDS has compiled microfilms of information for most Italian towns and cities for several years, up to the early 1900s. Contact your local LDS family history centre to order these records. LDS FhCs contact information can be found on the family History web site. You may also want to check the records on the family search.org web page. However, if you are unable to find books or microfilms with information for your town, it may be necessary to write a letter to your town, to request the information you need, giving the record holders as much information about the Ancestor you’re looking for as you possibly can. If you plan to write letters to officials in small Italian towns, it is recommended that you write them in Italian. However, if you plan to write to officials in larger tourist cities, you can make your inquiries in English. You can find electronic form letters on the letter generator web site, which will help you, formulate your letter in Italian. All you have to do is fill in the blanks, and submit them as prompted by the site. Most small towns will reply fairly quickly, and if you have relatives who are still living in these towns, they would probably be willing to help you with your research. If you don’t have the time, or you simply need help finding the information you need, you have the option of hiring a professional Genealogist either here in the U.S. or in Italy. Some researchers have even chosen to take a trip to the beautiful country of Italy, to find their living relatives.
Don’t Overlook Church Records
Another resource where you may find information about your Italian heritage is by searching through church records. The downfall to this kind of search is that church records are hard to find, and often contain much less information than any other public records. Catholic Church records are written in Latin, and they are not always kept in the best of conditions. Another downfall is that many churches have been closed down in Italy, so you should look for the mother church, which is there the records for the churches that are no longer in existence are housed. Catholic priests often have to cover two or more churches, because there is a major shortage of priests in many towns and cities in Italy. When writing to a church, it may be necessary to offer a small donation in Euros. Since civil records date back to 1804, it is necessary to find the church records that go further back than that to complete your family history. There are many other types of records that you can research; however, they aren’t always available to the general public. These records include military service and notary records. These records include: wills, dowry agreement information, bills of sale, and so forth. Many notary records date back many centuries, some of which are in the form of online censuses taken every decade. However, these records are not available for public viewing.