Thursday, October 23, 2014

Multiple Given Names for Italian Ancestors

Those ancestors who are found with multiple given names [i.e. more than two] are often found to be from wealthy families. For example, in the record below, the child was baptized with three names, Giuseppe Gaspare Agostino, only one of which was required to be the name of a saint.

It is not unusual for the mother's and godmother's surnames to be omitted within a baptismal record. The title of Magistro within this record was also a sign that the family was wealthy.

Baptismal Record of Giuseppe Gaspare Agostino Tessitore

Giuseppe Gaspare Agostino was baptized on 18 February 1767 in the Parish of San Giorgio Martire in Prizzi. He was the son of Magistro Salvatore Tessitore and Anna [no surname given], a married couple. Salvatore was the son of the deceased Magistro Agostino [Tessitore]. The child’s godparents were Magistro Gaspare Butera and Innocenzia [no surname given], the wife of Giuseppe Orlando.[1]

[1] Parish of San Giorgio Martire, Prizzi, Palermo Province, Italy, “Registro di Battesimi [Register of Baptisms], 1767,” unnumbered, p. 394, 18 February 1767, baptismal record for Giuseppe Gaspare Agostino Tessitore; digitized images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 January 2014). 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Update from Portale Antenati

A notification was posted to the Italian government's website, Portale Antenati, on 20 October 2014.

They note that there were errors in the metadata when they uploaded the images for the State Archives in Pescara. They removed the images last week and should have the corrected set of images reuploaded by the end of this week.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Italian Notarial Records Available Through FamilySearch

FamilySearch's collection of Italian notarial records is growing, due to their agreement with the Italian government to digitize the civil records being conserved in the provincial/state archives. A few other types of documents are being caught in the microfilming process. The above image shows the FamilySearch catalog entry for Val Lemina's notarial records and details the type of records one might find within the notarial registers

In Italy, a notary was required to prepare any type of legal transaction from marriage contracts to loans to land transfers. As such, this was a coveted position which brought wealth to a family. As only those with an education would be granted such a position, notaries were usually of the upper class. This job was often passed down through several generations of the same family.

The Notes section of the catalog entry details the types of documents normally contained within these registers or minute books. Another type of document I've seen quite often and which is not listed, is the Atti di Notarieta', prepared when a person had no birth or baptismal record and such document was required for marriage or other such event. These documents required seven witnesses to verbally state their knowledge of the person's birth and events surrounding it. These witnesses were often close friends or family to the person in question.

Name of Notary
Type of Records
(Registers or Minutes)[i]
Time Period
Giuseppe De Paoli
Giovanni (Giovan) Angelo De Paoli
25 February 1677-26 May 1680
28 May 1680-26 August 1685
26 June 1691-29 July 1697
Giuseppe Maria Lucchese
Michelangelo Lucchese
16 September 1770-2 April 1771
21 April 1771-26 December 1775
Giovan Domenico D'Onofrio
2 June 1771-25 August 1775
1771-August 1785
11 September 1775-1794
1795-about 1810
1808-about 1820
Pietro D'Onofrio
1771-about 1814

Above is a table that I created detailing the surviving pre-1800 notarial records of a town in the Lucca province. [The names of the notaries have been changed by request of the client for whom I was working.] This list is a good example of the gaps often seen between what was likely initially created and what still survives after several hundred years.

[i] Within the notarial records, the minutes are where the notary takes down the specifics of the transaction in short form. He then creates a longer legal document, which was placed put in a separate register.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Reference Book on Sicilian Genealogy and Heraldry to be Released in November

While perusing some time ago, I saw that Louis Mendola will be releasing a new book on Sicilian Genealogy and Heraldry in November. This is a welcome addition to the list of reference books on Italian genealogy.

Sicilian Genealogy and Heraldry by Louis Mendola

While the reviewer's likening of the author to Rambo or Indiana Jones is more than a bit pretentious, it would be wise to look beyond this and give this new reference a chance. Mr. Mendola is well known for his work within this field during his long and illustrious career.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Updates to Portale Antenati (Main Italian Archives) Website

In keeping with their objective to digitize all civil registers held in Italian state/provincial archives and post them on the internet, the Portale Antenati website is continuously being updated with more records. Below are the records that have been uploaded since April 2014.

22 April 2014 - The records of the Archivio di Stato di Pesaro-Urbino were completed.

15 May 2014 - The records of the Archivio di Stato di Como were completed.

26 May 2014 - The records of the Archivio di Stato di Caltanisetta were completed.

15 July 2014 - The records of the Archivio di Stato di Viterbo were completed.

16 July 2014 - The records of the Archivio di Stato di Venezia were completed.

26 September 2014 - The records of the Archivio di Stato di Bergamo were completed.

This is beginning to be a very valuable resource in Italian genealogy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Italian Resources from Google Books - Dialectical Resources

Occasionally, you will find a dialectical word within Italian genealogical and historical documents. I see them most often in the older parish records. Now with the push to digitize records and resources there are more and more resources available to help you in your research.

Google Books has several free e-books of dialectical dictionaries from different parts of Italy. There are three that I've found particularly helpful within my work.

Vocabulario bresiano-italiano, Volume I

Vocabulario dei dialetti bergamaschi antichi e moderni, Volume I

Vocabulario modenese-italiano, Volume I

The second resource above helped me translate a set of Stato d'Anime [parish census] records found in the Bergamo province. In that instance, the priest(s) used the local dialect, Italian, and a mess of Latin abbreviations, on every page of the census. This may indicate that multiple priests worked on these records during the time frame of their creation. They were progressive records, with vital events and sacraments being added at the time of each event. It was probably one of the most challenging sets of translations I've ever done.

I encourage you to explore Google Books, as more and more Italian resources are becoming available, due to a collaboration between them and the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage. The link below describes this collaboration and details some of the resources they are seeking to digitize through this collaboration.

Google and the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage reach agreement to digitize works from Italian libraries

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research to Offer Unique Opportunities in Genealogical Education


Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research to Offer Unique Opportunities in Genealogical Education

RALEIGH, North Carolina, 9 September 2014. Professional genealogists Catherine W. Desmarais, CG, Michael Hait, CG, and Melanie D. Holtz, CG, are pleased to announce the formation of the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research. The Virtual Institute is a unique educational opportunity for genealogists of all skill levels.

The Institute will offer courses on a wide variety of genealogical subjects, providing “Vigorous” year-round education for the genealogical community using a virtual platform. Each course will consist of a total of four 90-minute lectures, two each presented on consecutive Saturdays, extensive syllabus material, and practical exercises. Limited class sizes of only one hundred registrants per course allows for a higher level of class participation and instructor feedback than typically offered by genealogy webinars.

Courses are currently planned around the topics of genealogical writing, advanced methodology, DNA testing and analysis, and cultural, regional, or record-based research strategies.

Many of these subject matters—as well as the depth of instruction—have never before been offered in a virtual format and are ideal for genealogists around the world. “The Virtual Institute will allow genealogists who work a full-time job or have limited travel budgets to more easily advance their genealogical skills,” Institute co-administrator Melanie D. Holtz stated.

Registration for each course will cost $69.99 and includes digital video recordings of all four lectures, available within two weeks of the close of each course.

For more information on the Institute and to register for upcoming courses, visit and subscribe to the mailing list for updates on future courses.


Michael Hait, CG, “Writing Logical Proof Arguments,” 1 November–8 November 2014
J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA, “Preparing the Field: Understanding the Agricultural Records of our Ancestors,” 24 January–31 January 2015
Maureen Taylor, “Family Photographs: Identifying, Preserving, and Sharing Your Visual Heritage,” 21 February–28 February 2015
Donna Moughty, “Strategies for Finding Your Irish Ancestors,” 7 March–14 March 2015
Blaine Bettinger, “(Finally!) Understanding Autosomal DNA,” 21 March–28 March 2015
Billie Stone Fogarty and Rick Fogarty, “Verifying the Family Legend of Native American Ancestry,” 18 April–25 April 2015
Melanie D. Holtz, CG, and Melissa Johnson, “Genealogical Applications of Dual Citizenship by Descent,” 2 May-9 May 2015
Paul Milner, “An In-Depth Look at the Big Four Records of English Research,” 30 May - 6 June 2015
Angela McGhie, “Digging in Federal Land Records,” 19 September-26 September 2015

CG, Certified Genealogist, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are Service Marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluations by the Board and the board name is a trademark registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.