Genealogy Research in Italy

Benvenuto! Thank you for visiting our Italian genealogy page! We are excited to help you learn more about your Italian ancestry. Italy is a country rich in history and culture and tracing one’s Italian roots is always an exciting adventure! There are many record sources available for doing genealogical research in Italy. Our goal for this site is to help you learn more about the different sources and methods available for building your Italian family tree. You may also be looking for information concerning Italian citizenship.

At ProGenealogists, we have experts who are familiar with all aspects of Italian research. We have assisted many of our clients in tracing their ancestry in Italy. Our close proximity to the world renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah makes it easy for us to access many of the records we need to be successful in Italian genealogy. Also, our network of local Italian agents aid in our research when records can only be accessed in local churches or archives. 

First Steps

The town of origin is the most important piece of information needed to begin your research of Italian ancestry. On the whole, genealogy records are not indexed for Italy yet. Therefore, it is essential to know the town of origin for an immigrant ancestor so that the records of that town can be studied.
Usually, the hardest thing to do in the research process for any immigrant ancestor is to determine the precise town of origin. In fact, it is often more difficult than adding four or five new generations to the pedigree once the location is known. Once the name of the immigrant ancestor's town of origin is known, then there are several resources to help determine more about the records that will benefit your ancestral pursuits.
Fortunately, Italian immigrants are generally much easier to trace back to their town of origin than other ethnic groups. This is because of two main reasons. First, the largest wave of Italian immigration took place when U.S. record sources were very informative as to place of origin. Second, Italian culture was such that origin was part of the oral traditions often passed on to posterity. This was not usually the case with other ethnic groups such as Irish and Germans.
If you do not yet know exactly where your family came from in Italy, here are a few places that could provide you with that information:

Family Records

  • Communicate with other relatives who may remember details about your family.
  • Search for family documents such as birth, marriage, death or church christening and confirmation certificates. 

Vital Records

  • Death and marriage records from the U.S. may list an exact place of birth for an immigrant.
  • Birth and death records of an immigrant’s children may also provide this information. 

Immigration Records

U.S. incoming passenger lists were regularly kept since 1820. However, these records were generally not very detailed until about 1890. Fortunately, this is about when the big wave of Italian immigration began. Most immigrants came into the port of Ellis Island in New York, though other ports such as Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore welcomed many Italian immigrants as well. Passenger lists can be searched in a variety of ways. For a list of links, visit our Genealogy Sleuth Page.

Naturalization Papers

Typically, U.S. Naturalization records after 1890 list an immigrant’s exact place of birth.

Next Steps

After you have identified an exact place of origin and have collected other details about the family such as birth, death and marriage details, then you’re ready to begin searching in original records! The following record sources are not the only records that are used in Italian research, but they are the most common.


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