If it is not too much to ask, I would like Babbo Natale or La Befana to put more Campania records on Antenati San Beniculturali, for Sinterklaas to put more German Lutheran records on Archion.de, and for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to find Angelo’s Special Inquiry Hearing case file. I would love to find those missing marriage documents in Caserta and see the military documents relating to Francesco Antonio Ferraro!
Last year I heard ALL of Napoli would be on Antenati this year. HA! Or should I say “ho ho ho!” Nola, Caserta, Salerno, Chieti, Novara how I wish you were on Antenati too!
Antenati is the Italian Archives record repository. It translates as “Ancestors.” It is free. The images are downloadable and clearer than microfilm and of course, enlargeable. Once you have the name of the province your ancestor came from, you can check to see if the archives from that province have been added to Antenati by the Italians. Eventually Italy will have all archives uploaded to the website. The newest added archives are mentioned at the bottom of their homepage under “latest news” or on the news button at the top of the page. And oh YES, on that homepage, if you cannot read Italian, click the Union Jack in the upper left corner!
There are three ways to take you to the archives to look at the civil records. Let me explain the first way. You can click Regions and Sources on the homepage. See the picture below. I selected Regions and Sources and this is the page it took me to: Regions and Sources (Territorio e le fonte)
When I get to this page I clicked on the map of Italy in the Piemonte Region at the top of the boot to see if Verbania records have been added. I got the message that the “images not yet available” for this province. But by hitting Verbania, or any other province listed for Piemonte, Antenati gave me the email address of their archives. Note the three tabs that can be clicked at the bottom of the left half of the image for Information, Civil State, and Military drafts. Important information is listed telling a researcher what is available and where it is available if it is not online. If I am checking for Torino, look at all of the information it gave to me, expecially on how to find military records in English:
Torino even has a fourth tab where links for other sources can be found. Very, very nice Torino researchers. I am jealous! If I was looking for records in Torino on Antenati I would hit “Browse civil state records.”
The second way to get to where I want to browse records of my ancestors is by selecting the blue wording “State Archives” on the home page. I would be taken to a page listing all of the State Archives available for browsing on Antenati, to this page. One does not need to go to the first option if they know their archives are on Antenati. I like this way most of the time because I know that I am usually heading to the Archives of the Province of Pescara. At this point now, if looking at the records on Antenati, English is of no use. All of the browsing I do in the records on this website will be in Italian.
After I hit my selection of “Archivio di Stato di Pescara” I am taken to a page that looks like this:
Most state archives on Antenati have this same setup or will have the same setup once all civil records are added to Antenati.* In Pescara, and other states that were once part of the Kingdom of Naples, the years for each designation of records listed above is this:
Stato Civile Napoleonico: 1809-1815
Stato Civile della Restaurazione: 1816-1860
Stato Civile Italiano: 1861-1930ish (note that birth records won’t go past 1910 because of privacy laws)
In some of the northern states, the Napoleonic records start earlier. Indexes made by the town scribe for each year of records are either at the beginning or end of the records in Pescara. But remember if you are searching the 1809 records in Pescara, there are not many indexes in any of the record batches. Town officials didn’t keep them yet. You will have to read each record to look for your ancestor. If you are searching a town with indexes for 1809 in Pescara you are very lucky.
After you decide what time period to search you are taken to an alphabetical listing of all of the communes in that archives. From there you are taken to the list of records available for the commune.
*Some archives on Antenati have church records in the database. I think I saw one the other day going back to the 1400s. The Archives of Rome do not resemble the Pescara setup above either. The Comune of Naples is setup by its quarters and contains few indexes.
The Third Way to Access the Database’s Records:
At the home page, at the top you could have clicked “Browse.” Don’t worry, just hit the Union Jack in the top right corner again if the site has reverted back to Italian. It would have taken you to a page that looks like this:
The only thing you need to fill out is the place and the year fields. Hit “Search.” After a few searching moments a page will appear with the archival holdings available in the database. To browse the desired records you will need to hit the word “Apri” on the left next to the records. This way has the same desired affect as the first method I told you about. Once again, everything beyond the word “apri” will be in Italian.
The final feature of the website to tell you about is the “Browse Names” option on the home page. If you click that option on the homepage you will be taken to this page where you can search indexes done by volunteers. Below is an image of the page.
The area pointed out in red tells you which archives on Antenati have been already been indexed. The fields are self-explanatory but I give a warning. Only a few archives have been indexed so far AND in Pescara, particularly in Penne and Farindola, the indexes aren’t complete. One should search for their ancestors B/M/D the old fashioned way- by browsing the indexes done by the town officials yearly at the beginning or end of each year of records.
This is a quick example: I typed in my great grandmother’s last name in the Cognome field: Merlenghi. I know she was born in Farindola so I put that in the field for place (Comune/Localita). I decided to not fill in anything else because Farindola is small and I hit search. She is right at the top of names as you can see below.
I hit “Apri” under the names of her parents. It takes me to this page and there is her birth record!
One more tip when searching in Italian civil records: The additional marriage documents you need in the allegati or processetti are numbered and match the same number at the top of the marriage act. Good luck!
Have a wonderful Natale and here is hoping you find that elusive, archaic Italian record this year! Maybe this Christmas post will help someone find it or hundreds of them like me ~~~~~ Buon Natale!