Italian Military Records

Italian Military Records

Expert advice for learning about your Italian ancestor's military service.

Q. My Italian grandfather served in World War I and was a prisoner of war of the Austrians. Where would I find information on this? I am assuming I would write to Lucca, Italy. 

A. You can get the conscription papers for your ancestor from Italy. Trafford Cole’s book Italian Genealogical Records states that the conscription records are called registro di leva and list all males by year of birth within each military district. He goes on to say that the records are usually indexed and fairly easy to consult: “There are two copies of them; one is held in the military district, and the other copy is initially held by the procura della repubblica, usually at the court (tribunal) archive. After 75 years, the latter copy is usually turned over to the state archive and made available for consultation.”


Cole goes on to describe how the military districts are divided. He also includes several examples of some of the documents.

The second type of military record is the registri dei fogli matricolare (record of draftee curriculum), which documents the individual’s military service. In a separate document (sometimes they are included in the foglio matricolare) called the registro di ruolo (military record), other documents may be found.
The Family History Library has microfilmed a handful of military records from Italy. To find them, go to the FamilySearch online catalog and run a place search of the province (such as Italy, Torino), then look for a Military Records heading.  You can borrow microfilm for viewing at your local FamilySearch Center


The free website has conscription records for a couple of comunes in Italy. Find the databases listed among’s growing collection of Italian records.

But you’ll most likely need to write to the Italian state archive (Archivo di Stato) where your ancestor lived. You’ll find websites for the Italian state archives here
My recommendation would be to read Cole’s chapter on military records. I find no mention of where prisoner of war records would, if at all, be included. I would think they would be in the registri dei fogli matricolare or the registro di ruolo since this is the most logical place for them.

You’ll find additional help researching your Italian family tree in John Philip Colletta’s book Finding Italian Roots (Genealogical Publishing Co.) and other guides available through Family Tree Shop, as well as in Family Tree University’s course on Italian Genealogy 101

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