If the Village of Origin has been determined for your ancestor, now is the exciting part – finding their birth, marriage and death records! Those records will provide parent, grandparent and great-grandparent names and if one is clever, one can find siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins as well!
Italian Vital Records
When using Antenati, first go to the top, right of the home page and select the language you are most comfortable with. Then go to the maps and check if the digitization is completed and available in the province you need, by selecting The Land and the Sources box. Not all Civil Registry archives have been digitized, so verify if the needed location is available and ready to be searched.
The records do not have to be completely digitized and in a status of “green” before you can begin browsing for ancestors. There are areas that are in “yellow” status that have quite a bit of information that can be searched through.
To Browse the Registries, simply select the province you wish to search, then the village and the record grouping that you desire to search through, for instance, birth records, or marriage records or death records:
Nati = Births
Matrimoni = Marriages
Morti = Deaths
After you have selected a year to search, the Immagine or images will come up a page at a time. A trick to find your ancestor more quickly is to go to the Index pages at the end of the “book” for that year. Select the Ultimo page, or last page and often there will be several pages of an index to peruse:
When you select the page you wish to open, double-click it again and you will be able to enlarge it to assist in reading. Some indexes are organized in chronological order, starting with the first birth in that village like the sample below from Santa Margarita and some indexes are organized by name. Either way, using the indexes will increase the speed in locating your ancestor:
Using FamilySearch will also give you a large collection in which to search. Just like Antenati, some areas are not available due to digitization not yet completed, destruction of records of that village because of wars and natural disasters, and not all acquired records are permissible to research just yet. Each province is unique regarding which years they have determined to make available. In the northern-Italy provinces, typically the searchable years begin in 1866 and go through 1929. In southern Italy, the year span can be much larger, which is helpful as we attempt to push the line back as far as possible. In Santa Margarita, our sample village above, the searchable years are 1821-1929 on FamilySearch. In the same village, the years are only 1821-1861 on Antenati, which can cause a gap if your ancestor was born, married or died after 1861. You will run across some villages that have made research available all the way back to 1810.
In FamilySearch, because you know the village of origin, you can access the important vital records for that village. Simply log in, and under the SEARCH tab select CATALOG. This will open up the Catalog section of FamilySearch where you can then type in the country, province and village name. The sample village is Italy, Agrigento, Santa Margherita di Belice:
And then select the Civil Registry records dated 1821-1929:
From here you can use a powerful search tool of FamilySearch to see if your ancestor has been indexed and searchable, or if anyone has found your ancestor and has a tree constructed. Let us use the first person located on the 1821 Index on Antenati (above), Brigitta Maria Barbera:
Unfortunately, the search for Brigida was not fruitful, so one can select the Browse through the 1,218,927 Images option.
That option will open up all the records are for the entire province, so select the village of Santa Margherita:
Then one can select Nati (births) in the year 1821 and it takes us to Book #2222, just like on Antenati.
On this searchable page of records for the village, i.e., Santa Margherita, one will find Marriages, Marriage Notifications, Births and Deaths for all of the searchable years of 1821-1861. You can search one category at a time and one year at time, or you can search through a grouping of records to compile all of the family members.
This option is done by going back to the page where you selected the Civil Registry of this village and then scrolling down the next page and selecting an entire microfilm to search. This will give you the chronological books of Births, Notifications of Marriages, Marriages and Deaths for each year, for a group of years on one film:
As you browse each year, there is wisdom in recording every person with the surname you are searching for and noting the parents’ names. Then when you do find your exact ancestor, you will also have collected some siblings who were born in neighboring years to the same parents. This is useful when searching marriage and death records as well. When searching for child death records, often you will come across grandparent death records in the years that your ancestor is having children. That record will give you the age of your grandparent and their parents’ and spouses’ names. With that information you can locate the grandparent’s birth record and estimate the year of marriage and find that record too. There one will discover the spouse’s information and in the marriage records, oftentimes there is important information relating to the bride and groom’s parents, particularly if they have passed away before the marriage date. Their death dates and names of their parents can also be included. It is important to read every page of a marriage record.
If the film has been indexed then when you select the magnifying glass to open this film and begin your search, instead of the microfilmed book opening, a new search page will come up. This means all of the information from that microfilm is available to search right there, instead of browsing one document at a time through the microfilmed book! We can put the information we know on Brigida Maria Barbera, born in Italy, Agrigento, Santa Margherita di Belice, from 1820-1821:
The results are instantaneous – we see the birth of Brigida on 31 December 1820 and also her death on 9 August 1821:
Note the two different spellings of her mother, Giuseppa. Also note the TREE symbol by her birth – this means someone has created a tree with Brigida’s family. Go check out that tree and gather information you may need for your tree. You can also select the Page icon and be directed to the original document on the microfilm and attach the sourcing information to your records.
FamilySearch is different from Ancestry in that they are creating ONE world tree, rather than separate family trees – so feel free to add what you know to the information gathered thus far if you find your ancestor already on the world-wide tree in FamilySearch.
This example of using the Antenati registries and FamilySearch records to find the same birth record has successfully demonstrated you can find vital records on both sites. Often times you can find more information on the Catalogued records of FamilySearch and find it more quickly.
Get your feet wet by first searching through these easy to navigate websites for the birth records of your ancestors. Use tools like Google Translate to identify dates, locations, and descriptive words in these records. You will quickly begin to identify the parents on the page, the given name of your ancestor and information on when that child was born, where the family lived and when that child was presented to the priest to be baptized and soon become comfortable in searching the other vital records. Happy hunting!
The expert researchers at Price Genealogy can often trace your Italian ancestry back several generations and compile it all in an engaging report that will be a family treasure for years to come.
Registro dello Stato Civile di Santa Margherita di Belice (Agrigento), 1821-1929, FamilySearch, (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/results?count=50&placeId=111675&query=%2Bplace%3A%22Italy%2C%20Agrigento%2C%20Santa%20Margherita%20di%20Belice%22&subjectsOpen=543204-50 : accessed July 2021).
 Registro dello Stato Civile di Santa Margherita di Belice (Agrigento), 1821-1929, FamilySearch, (https://www.familysearch.org/search/image/index?owc=https://www.familysearch.org/service/cds/recapi/collections/2480962/waypoints : accessed July 2021).
 Registro dello Stato Civile di Santa Margherita di Belice (Agrigento), 1821-1929, FamilySearch, (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/393376?availability=Family%20History%20Library : accessed July 2021).
 Registro dello Stato Civile di Santa Margherita di Belice (Agrigento), 1821-1929, FamilySearch, https://www.familysearch.org/search/record/results?q.filmNumber=7859774&count=20&offset=0&m.defaultFacets=on&m.queryRequireDefault=on&m.facetNestCollectionInCategory=on : accessed July 2021).
 Registro dello Stato Civile di Santa Margherita di Belice (Agrigento), 1821-1929, FamilySearch, https://www.familysearch.org/search/record/results?q.givenName=brigida&q.surname=barbera&q.birthLikeDate.from=1820&q.birthLikeDate.to=1821&q.filmNumber=7859774&count=20&offset=0&m.defaultFacets=on&m.queryRequireDefault=on&m.facetNestCollectionInCategory=on : accessed July 2021).
Have you done any genealogy work with Italian vital records? Do you have any questions? Let us know in a comment below!