Italian Civil Records
Civil Registration records (registri dell stato civile) are those created by the government. This process began on a national level in 1866 when the country of Italy was officially created. At that time, a formal nationwide system of tracking births, marriages and deaths, regardless of ecclesiastical affiliation was implemented. These records are maintained by the individual town (or comune)archives and usually include more information than the church records about these events.
Before 1866, civil registration was also carried out, though it was more on a provincial level rather than national since the various states and regions had not yet been formed to create a unified Italy. Early civil registration was introduced during Napoleon’s brief reign from 1806-1815 in the northern and central areas of Italy. While some areas discontinued the practice after Napoleon’s defeat, many areas continued to record vital events continuously from that time. These records are generally preserved in the provincial archives of each region, although many areas have been microfilmed by the Family History Library. Ancestry.com has also been working to digitize these records for places that are not available through the Family History Library. It should be noted that Sicily (Sicilia) began keeping civil registers in 1820 and has maintained them ever since.
In the civil registrations, you can usually expect to find the following:
Births (Nati/Nascite): Birth registrations will generally include the name of the child; the hour, date and place of birth of the child; the names (including maiden names), professions, ages and residences of both parents of the child; and the name, age, profession and residence of at least two witnesses and the presenter of the child (if not the father).
Marriage (Matrimoni): Marriage registrations provide the date of marriage; the name, age, birth place, residence, and profession of each the bride and groom; give the names of the parents, their ages, professions and residences; and provide the same information about four witnesses, two for the bride and two for the groom.
Death (Morti/Morte): Death registrations provide the date of death; the name, age, profession and former residence of the deceased; occasionally list the marital status, name of spouse, and/or names of parents. An important note for deaths is to remember that women in Italy retained their maiden names, even after marriage. They will not be listed under their spouse’s surname.