Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rome Archivio di Stato's Blog

Looks like the provincial archives in Italy have forayed into the blogging world.  What a great way to help reseachers keep abreast of new acquisitions and to learn about new resources they didn't know existed. 

Have fun exploring Rome's blog (in Italian)!  Click on the title of this post to link directly to it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Look at Southern Italian Life in the 19th Century - Part II

"...Inability to provide children with shoes in South Italy became a contributing factor to irregular attendance at school. Old people say, when speaking of their life in Italy, that they never saw a child at school without shoes. Clothes of a certain standard as well as shoes were thought necessary for school attendance, and these were only too often beyond the purchasing power of a child's family.

Men had themselves shaved only once or twice a week by the village barbers. Since such manufactured articles as razors were very expensive, their possessors had almost a monopoly of the shaving business. In some Sicilian towns, the men had the peculiar custom of permitting one lock of hair to grow on the nape of the neck. Called the trizzi di donna (women's tress), it was never combed or cut, "and the owners think themselves fortunate in the possession of it, because they consider it a special gift -- a sign of being favored by Fortune.""

A Look at Southern Italian Life in the 19th Century

In 1938, Phyliss H. Williams, a research assistant in Sociology at the Institute of Human Relations at Yale University, published South Italian Folkways in Europe and America: A Handbook for Social Workers, Visiting Nurses, School Teachers, and Physicians.

This handbook is a fascinating glimpse into the world of Southern Italians, in Italy as well as in America after immigration. I will be posting exerpts from this handbook from time to time on this blog as they teach us much about our ancestors. Here's the first exerpt.

"Many South Italians who came to America around 1890 and 1900 settled in cities, whereas North Italians took up truck gardening or more extensive farming. This choice depended on the economic resources of the two groups. The North Italian more frequently brought money with which to buy land on his arrival. This the southernor lacked, and by the time he had saved enough to go back to farming his American-born children insisted upon remaining city-dwellers. These second generation southerners constitute the bulk of Italian urban population.....Families of the same local origin in Italy (paesani) tend to live in the same parts of town and generally speaking North Italians lived in sections distinctly separated from those of the southerner. Great prosperity and success, however, often cause members of both group to penetrate the more generalized America quarters of the towns."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stillborn Births in Italy

There was no one way of recording the death of a stillborn child in Italy. Most times you will see only a death record created (and not a birth record) and it will note that the child was born "senza vita" or "without life."

Occasionally, stillborn births will be recorded separately, often amongst the death records of town residents who died elsewhere. Below is a death record created for a stillborn birth whose form was pre-printed for this purpose. I have not come across pre-printed stillborn birth/death records very often. The title reads "Atti di Morti Nati" or "Act of Dead Birth".

Death Record for Stillborn Female Child of Nicolo di Sergio and Rosa Latuno

What I find fascinating is the fact that normal procedure was to present a child at the civil record's office to have it's birth recorded. When someone died the civil record's official often came to the person's home to visually verify that the person was dead. One has to wonder whether they carried the body of their baby to the town hall or if the civil official came to their home as would have been done for any other death.

The Death Record of Saverio Arturi

Sometimes you come across the most interesting records when doing Italian research. Below is a link to the image of a death record of a Calabrian soldier "gunned down in the public piazza" in Isnello, Sicily in 1863.

1860-1870 was a time of much unrest in Italy and in Sicily, in particular. Italian soldiers were sent to quell the uprising of the Sicilian people against yet another ruler who made promises they did not keep. Some towns in Sicily have records that are missing during the 1860-1864 time frame.

Death Record of Saverio Arturi