The best port of departure to your Italian ancestors' adventure
Records of Population
The Anagrafe (Register Office, or Civil Register)
If you need to find information about an ancestor or a relative, you can address your request to the Anagrafe (Register Office Records) of the commune where they were born. The Anagrafe in Italy is a department of the public administration created to keep the records of the families resident in their communes, with a detailed registry of any change in their situation (moving, births, deceases, etc.).
For every resident, a Foglio di Famiglia (Family Record) is open; this is a document containing records of one or more families. Every personal detail of individuals is recorded: forename, surname, parent’s name, nickname, and occupation, date of birth, date of marriage, place of origin, arrival date, and changes like emigration, granting of citizenship to foreigners, new marriages, or death. Also is recorded a civic number identifying the families’ dwelling.
Before the Italian Unification, the Anagrafe was already in force in every city of the most important Italian states. The Anagrafe was implemented during the period of the Kingdom of Italy, but with facultative character, by Royal Decree (Regio Decreto) Nº 2105, on December 31st. 1864. Being of facultative character (not obligatory), not all the communes implemented it.
The first national Italian Census was taken in 1871. All the Anagrafe records were matched with the Census results.
We can address to the Ufficio Anagrafe, (Anagrafe Office), asking for information about our ancestors. We may ask them for three documents:
The Scheda Anagrafica contains personal information. Every Italian citizen has his or her Scheda Anagrafica. This file is active until the individual dies or change his dwelling to other commune. After that, it will be filed.
Every citizen is recorded in the Ufficio Anagrafe of a commune,
- At his or her birth, and in the same commune where the parents are recorded.
- Or through any change of domicile from another Italian commune or from another country.
The Anagrafe information is updated (according to the citizens’ declarations) at the change of domicile into the same commune, to another commune or a foreign country; by constitution of a new family, by changes in occupations or when high school or university degrees are obtained.
The data recorded in these files, generally are: Surname, forename and nickname; parents, place and date of birth, domicile, profession or titles obtained; immigration, emigration; civil status, death, marginal notes, file number, or references to the Family Record.
The Scheda di Famiglia is a civil vital document which contains all the information about how a family is composed, which means: all individuals related by marriage, kinship, affinity, adoption, or attached by friendship ties, sharing the same domicile. It includes names, kinship realtions, and date and place of birth of all the members of a homeland.
When children get married, a note is recorded in the parents’ Family File and a new Family File is opened for that son or daughter.
But the most useful of these documents is the Certificato Storico di Famiglia (Historical State of the Family). This document shows all the changes of the family over the time. The Stato di Famiglia gives us information about the family in some specified moment. It means that is limited to the family members who were still present at the time this document was issued. The Historical State of Family gives us the information about what happened with that family since the past until the present day.
Certificato Storico di Famiglia, also known as Stato di Famiglia (Certificate of Family Status). The Certificate of Family Status shows all the events of a family from the beginning of its constitution. It includes changes of domicile, or other changes, as: births, marriages and dates of decease recorded in chronologic order.
This certificate can be also required to the Anagrafe and usually the delay for its issue is about 2 days. This document is also required for notary purposes, or to held information about inheritances, successions, etc. Of course we can ask for it as a part of our genealogical research.
The Demographics Services of Italy has 2 fees for this service:
- A standard or regular letter = € 2.58 for each individual recorded in the Stato de Famiglia in the required date;
- A legal letter = € 14.62 for stamps + € 5.16 for each individual recorded in the Stato de Famiglia in the required date.
The historical reconstruction depends on the information to retain Anagrafe files. Many Italian communes lost their file during the two world wars or natural disasters.The Italian communes issued this certification acording to different models.
Scheda Anagrafica and Stato di Famiglia (PPS presentation)
(Click here if you can not view this document)
Model of letter
Comune di … (commune name)…
Responsabile Signor/Signora (responsible)
Mi chiamo.......(Name and Last Name).....e vivo in … (Place of residence)…... e sto facendo un studio sulla storia della mia famiglia. Potrebbe indicarmi se nell'anagrafe del suo comune si conservano documenti (già sia schede anagrafiche, pratiche migratorie o fogli di famiglia) corrispondenti all'anno ... (year).... ?
In caso affermativo, potrebbe inviarmi lo Stato di Famiglia appartenente alla famiglia di:.....(ancestor’s name)....
Data di nascita:
Loro vivevano in ......(Place of residence)...... nell'anno ....(year)......, anni dopo una parte della famiglia emigrò negli Stati Uniti or another country.
Lo prego mi faccia sapere il costo di questa certificazione e la forma di pagamento. Allego alla presente fotocopia della mia carta d’identita.
Nell’attesa di una Sua risposta e ringranziandoLa in anticipo per la Sua cortese attenzione, Le porgo i miei distinti saluti.
Dati personali: (Name and Last Name, postal address and e-mail).
Nome e cognome:
How to ask for these documents?
-We should address to the Anagrafe of the Italian commune.
-To try to obtain the name of the Anagrafe’s officer who will attend our request. The website of the Ministero dell'Interno (Ministry of Interior) offers information about the responsible of every department, in every Italian commune: http://www.servizidemografici.interno.it/sitoCNSD/
Not to request information about people still alive (people who were born less than 110 years ago, for example), with exception of those cases in which we know the date of decease.
To attach to the order a photocopy of some picture ID; usually communes don’t give any information if the person who applies for the document is not properly identified.