What do you do if you’re sure you qualify for Italian dual citizenship but you don’t know how to obtain copies of Italian records? Read on for my tips and tricks.
Once you determine you are eligible for Italian dual citizenship, you’ll need to start gathering your documents. Gathering your American records should be easy, but what if you need Italian records and don’t speak Italian? Or what if you don’t even know where to look?
Experience has taught me that there are a few excellent tools at your disposal to find out.
The website www.cognomix.it is an excellentresource. It lists last names in Italy and shows them on a map where they aremost common. Choose the section “Mappa dei Cognomi,” type in the last name, andthen click “Cerca.” You’ll see a map with the regions where that last name isfound in Italy. Clicking a region brings up another map where you can see thecities where that last name is found. Below, you can find the names of eachcity and the number of families living there with that last name
Ancestry is another great website for starting your initial research. Play around with it and search for census records which often contain a wealth of information. You may also be able to find copies of naturalization records here. Naturalization records will most likely contain the name of the town your ancestor emigrated from, as we’ll explain below.
NARA, USCIS or country clerks’ offices
These three official bodies may hold naturalization records for your ancestor. As stated above, naturalization records are usually the best bet when it comes to pinpointing your ancestor’s date and place of birth. These records also contain information about your ancestor’s family and other bits like arrival dates and information regarding any previous attempts at obtaining foreign citizenship. Plus, they’re just super cool to look at!
Using the documents you already have
You can use information you already do know to find information you need. For example, if your great grandfather was born in Italy, try and get your grandfather’s U.S. birth record. The information you need such as your great grandfather’s place of birth may be on there. If it’s not, try again with their siblings.
Did your ancestor emigrate with siblings?
If your ancestor may have emigrated with siblings, try and look for their information too. You never know what you may find!
Civil or church marriage records
Church or civil marriage records may also contain key information such as place of birth.
Death records, too, can be a wealth of information and may contain the names of parents and places of birth.
Talk to older relatives
Sometimes your older family members are the absolute best sources of information. Talk to your aunts, uncles, extended relatives, or even grandparents and don’t underestimate what they might know! When I started my own journey towards dual citizenship, I found out my grandmother had a copy of my grandfather’s naturalization certificate hanging in a frame on the wall. Ifyour family doesn’t know, maybe they know someone who does!
Italian military records
Once you’ve narrowed down as much information as you can, you can move on to the next step which is finding the actual documents in Italy. Even if you don’t yet know the place of birth for sure, you may be able to find more information just by knowing the approximate date of birth or theprovince or region of origin. With the approximate date of birth, the name of parents and the general location in hand, you can write to the Archivio di Stato in Italy and ask for military records.
Some Italian towns have really come into the digital age and have started putting digitized records online for you to look at! Visit antenati (Italian for “ancestors”) for more information and to look through the records.
Pratiche.it is an Italian service which requests birth,marriage, death, and other records on your behalf. Once you know the name,date, and place of birth you can visit pratiche.it and pay a nominal fee to get your record.