Now What?: Military Mystery
3/5/2010
Finding Italian military records.
Q. While visiting a family hometown in Italy, I found my great-uncle Angelo Fossa on a monument for soldiers killed in World War I. I requested his military records from the provincial office and from Rome, but he wasn't listed. Where do I go from here?

A. When Italian unification was completed in 1870, all 18-year-old men were subject to mandatory conscription. Each town (comune) maintains a record of locals who served in the military, so the easiest way to get a post-1870 record is from your uncle's town government (municipio). But if the record no longer exists, or if officials prove unhelpful, you have two alternatives:

• For military service prior to World War I, contact the state archives (archivio di stato) in the capital of the province where your ancestor lived. State archives have custody of older military records, some of which predate unification by a century. Visit <www.archivi.beniculturali.it> for state archives' addresses.