Often, the hardest part of the Italian dual citizenship process is how to find your Italian ancestor. You may have a name and even have known them all your life, but still don’t know where they were born.
Family “legends,” a language barrier, and many generations removed make it difficult to get precise information. However, there are a few tips that you can follow to learn how to find your Italian ancestor.
Look for your ancestor’s marriage records. This goes for civil and church records. Sometimes—but not always—the marriage certificate lists a precise place of birth. Often this may just say “Italy,” but sometimes you get lucky with the name of a town.
Want to know how to find your Italian ancestor? Look no further than naturalization records. Personally, I find these records to be a treasure trove of info.
Look for your ancestor’s death records. They often contain the names of parents and birthplace.
Their children’s birth records
Try to find a birth record for your ancestor’s child(ren). Look for both the civil record and the baptismal certificate. If the information isn’t there for one child, keep looking until you’ve done them all. Sometimes the information might not be there on one birth record but it is on another.
Church records are excellent because they often respond much quicker than states/civil registries. When placing a call to the church, you might find they can look for the record while on the phone with you.
Did your ancestor have siblings?
If your ancestor had siblings, look for his or her records too. Try to find their birth certificate, death certificate, naturalization certificate, or marriage certificate. The information you need might not be on your direct ancestor’s records but it may be on their sibling’s.
Talk to your older relatives
The best source of information possible! Talk to your grandparents, elderly aunts and uncles, and even parents. Don’t underestimate the power of family lore. If your relatives don’t know, maybe they know someone who does.
Try and look for census records. Even though the information was self-reported, you may hit pay dirt. You can find census records on websites like Ancestry.com.
Archivio di Stato (in Italy)
Once you find the general area your ancestor was from, you can go on to the next step. Even if you don’t know the exact town, you probably know more by now than you did before. With the approximate date and place of birth in hand as well as the name of their parents, you can write to the Archivio di Stato (State Archive). It’s helpful to ask for military records, too.
Antenati, Ancestry.com, Family Search, and the like
If you know the name of the town you can look on Family Search, Antenati, and Ancestry.com. Pull up google, type in “stato civile” plus the name of the province and “familysearch” and you might find what you’re looking for.