From 1880 to 1920, more than 4 million Italians immigrated to the United States (often, traveling back and forth a few times first), where they tended to live alongside other Italians in urban areas. Today more than 17 million Americans can claim Italian ancestry.
Among exciting new resources for Italian genealogy are 137 collections of civil registration, church and other records at the free FamilySearch.org. Most aren’t indexed, so to find an ancestor’s records, you’d need to know the comune (the basic administrative division, similar to a municipality) and frazione or contrada (similar to a neighborhood) where he or she lived. An ongoing Italian Ancestors Project is organizing volunteers to index these records.
Family Tree University’s new Italian Genealogy 101 four-week online course, starting May 19, will help you use American records to figure out where in Italy your ancestors came from, then delve into Italian genealogical records.
Ancestry.com has an Italian sister site, Ancestry.it, but it also has collections of Italian records available with a subscription to the US Ancestry.com site. Some of these will duplicate what’s on FamilySearch.org, after an international records-sharing agreement last September.
Many other websites and organizations that aren’t quite as well-known also have resources for tracing Italian roots, including
- Comuni Italiani
- Immigration History Research Center
- Order Sons of Italy in America
- Italian Genealogical Group
- Italy GenWeb
- … and others
In Italian Genealogy 101, you’ll learn about all these and other resources for researching your Italian ancestors, including how to access and understand Italian records, and how to deal with common brick walls in Italian family trees.
Italian Genealogy 101 starts May 19 and runs through June 13. You’ll find a course outline and a link to register at Family Tree University.