Follow these four key steps to trace your Italian ancestors.
Those of us who’ve been tracing our Italian roots since the Dark Ages, long before the word online existed, have managed just fine. In fact, I traced my DeBartolo and Vallarelli lines back to the mid-1700s without leaving US shores and without the aid of a computer. If I can do it, you can, too—following these four key steps.
If you know the town where your ancestors originated, you’re one step ahead to connecting your immigrant ancestor to his forebears in Italy. But sound genealogical research means starting with the present and working back one generation at a time. So first, gather all the identifying information you can in US sources. After all, you don’t want to be tracing the wrong Antonio DeLeo in Italian records. Plus, your ancestor’s name may be different in America from what it was in Italy: An immigrant I’ve helped research named Frank Miller was born Francesco Mollo. Ask family members if they know your immigrant ancestor’s Italian name. In US census records (on microfilm in large libraries and online at subscription sites such as Ancestry.com
) search first for the American name. If you get no results, try the Italian name.