16/11/2018
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150 million Italian genealogical records now available free of charge at FamilySearch

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More than 100 million people around the world have Italian roots, and tracing Italian ancestors is about to get much easier, thanks to the release of 150 million family history records at FamilySearch.

FamilySearch has been preserving historical records from Italy archives for decades and the project has reached its initial goal to digitize all available birth, marriage, and death records from 1806 to 1945 found in the civil registrations of Italy in every state archive and make them available for free online.

FamilySearch is now focusing on its second, much more challenging goal, to use online volunteers to create a searchable online database that makes every name, place, and date in each record (estimated to be over 500 million names) easily discoverable on any internet-enabled device—for free. 

Italy's civil registration records

The Italy civil registration records are the most complete of FamilySearch’s collections. FamilySearch also has Church records in Italy dating back to the 1500s. Starting a little later, Italy's court (tribunali) records can be found. Civil records became available after 1806. After annexing large sections of Italy during his reign, Napoleon Bonaparte introduced civil registration and the mandatory creation of duplicate records.

Copies of birth, citizenship or residency, marriage, and death documents were kept in the community, and a second set were sent to the court having jurisdiction for the area. Today, these are a gold mine for Italian family history researchers—as they continue to become accessible online. 

Opening Italian archives

Through agreements with Italian governments and other repositories, FamilySearch is preserving not only the civil records online, but also millions more from archives throughout Italy—essentially helping to open Italian archives to patrons all over the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The digital images are also a safety net against natural calamities and loss to human handling. 

FamilySearch has an ongoing goal to process over 15 million newly digitized historical records and scanned microfilm images yearly. 

The new initiative is the result of collaboration between FamilySearch, the Italian government, the Italian State Archives (Direzione Generale per gli Archivi or DGA), and many other archives. The free collections include over 200 years of digitized images of birth, marriage, death, and other significant family history records from all regions of Italy and many other repositories. 

"Amazingly, we will finish digitizing the civil records of all the Italian provinces in 2019, but the indexes that make the records easily searchable by name will take many more years," said Laura Giometta, who leads the FamilySearch Italian Records program. Until the records are indexed, they can be searched as a free digital image collection online. 

Explore the Italian collections here.

QUICK LINK: Top tips for using FamilySearch

(images copyright FamilySearch)

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