I can’t say it enough. I love, love, LOVE Italian genealogy. Every time I get that new microfilm of records I thank anyone who will listen that my maternal grandmother’s maiden name is Primavera. When a marriage packet gets you not 1 or 2 generations but four who wouldn’t be ecstatic? Due to one marriage from 1844 I was able to trace back one line of my family to 1706. If you are doing Italian Genealogy and dealing with the Civil Registration records from 1809-1900 I hope you are checking the processetti records (if available) for the marriages.
In terms of what records are available:
- Births for Bride and Groom
- If the father of the bride or groom is deceased proof of his death
- If the father of the father is deceased proof of his death (This is only if the father is deceased)
- I haven’t dealt with a second marriage but I imagine you would at least get the death of the earlier spouse
- I have also randomly found copies of mothers death records but not in every case and in the case of the very early marriage records at least the death date of both parents if needed.
I will walk through what I discovered in the 1844 marriage file of Pietro Savino and Fioralba Iezzi and also two other cases where the records were vital in finding out information. This will give you an idea on what is possible to discover.
As a bit of background. My great-grandfather, Oscar Primavera, was born in a small town in Chieti, Italy called Guardiagrele. His parents were Antonio Agostino Giuseppe Primavera and Maria Teresa Savino. Antonio died when Oscar was about 5 years old and the family emigrated to America over the next few years with the last being “Teresa” with Oscar and Rocco, the two youngest of her children.
Pietro and Fioralba are the parents of Maria Teresa. They were older when they married in October 1844. Pietro was 32 and Fioralba 27, making them older than all but one of Oscar’s paternal grandparents. Neither had been married before so there were no records pertaining to a previous spouse.
Fioralba’s father, Antonio, was still living at the time of their marriage so the only record available was her birth record. For Pietro I hit gold though. Pietro’s father, Luigi, died in 1830 so there was a transcript of his death. Luigi’s father, Filippo, died in 1817 so there was also proof of his death since Luigi was deceased. A transcript of Pietro’s birth record was included as well.
Guardiagrele, Chieti, Italy, vol. 1844 Processetti, Processetti Number 33 (1844), Death Extract for Filippo Savino in Processetti for Pietro Savino and Fioralba Iezzi; FHL microfilm 1174786
Filippo Savino was, according to his 1817 death record, the son of Antonio Savino and Angela Rosica, born about 1755 in Guardiagrele. Well, Italy did a tax/land assessment called the Catasto di Onciario during the early 1750s. Guardiagrele’s was done in 1753 so it was fairly close to Filippo’s birth. It was worth a shot to check to see what Savinos were listed. The Guardiagrele Catasto di Onciaro of 1753 has been transcribed and put online which is a definite plus. Listed under “foreigners” was the only Savino family in the town, Antonio Savino and his wife Angela Rosica, with 2 daughters and a son! The fact that the family was listed as foreigners was just stating that Antonio Savino was not native to Guardiagrele but to Letto de Palena (actually Lettopalena.) It does not necessarily mean that your ancestor was not from what is now Italy it just means they are not native to the town they were residing in at the time. Antonio being 47 in 1753 makes his birth year approximately 1706! So it opens up a whole new avenue of research.
The second example (see below) includes a death record pre-1809 written in Latin. This is a record impossible for me to obtain except for a trip to Italy to scour the handful of churches that are in Guardiagrele. It is also good to point out that this death record transcription was found in the marriage files for the grandson of the deceased. I am descended from the groom’s aunt so doing collateral genealogy is essential in Italian research. There may be times where the father may not have been deceased when your ancestor was married but had died when a sibling married later on.
Guardiagrele, Chieti, Italy, vol. 1844 Processetti, Processetti Number 41 (1844), Death Extract for Angelo Antonio Orlando in Processetti for Pietro Maria Orlando and Maria Oliva Primavera; FHL microfilm 1174786
Always get the original of the record but at least it gives you the death date. Instead of searching through years of death records looking you can go straight to the original. It may also be the only way to get the information as the original may be long gone. The transcriptions of the records are extremely reliable at least with the records I am working with. I have yet to find a mistake in the copying. Not to say that it doesn't happen.
The third example goes back to Antonio Agostino Giuseppe Primavera (I just love his name) and Maria Teresa Savino and doing collateral research as well. It also points out why we should read and transcribe the entire document. Antonio and Maria Teresa were married 21 May 1891. The records for that time period do not include the processetti so I was out of luck with that. I transcribe and translate the entire document and source it into my genealogy software program and go onto the next document.
Antonio’s sister, Teresa Primavera, filed her Pubblicazioni di Matrimonio (Banns) with Francescopaolo Zulli on 18 July 1891. Leaving just short of two months between the two events. The fascinating part of these two records is the residence of the father. On Antonio’s marriage record their father, Vincenzo Primavera, was living in Guardiagrele. But when Teresa filed her banns her father’s residence was Stati Uniti dell’ America (see below). Vincenzo had gone to America between May and July of 1891!
Guardiagrele, Chieti, Italy, vol. 1891 Matrimoni, Matrimoni Number 36 (1891), Marriage Record for Antonio Primavera and Maria Savino; FHL microfilm 1416255
Guardiagrele, Chieti, Italy, vol. 1891 Matrimoni, Matrimoni Number 40 (1891), Marriage Record for Francescopaolo Zulli and Teresa Primavera; FHL microfilm 1416255
I run over, not too gracefully, to the Castle Garden site and enter the information I have. 9 June 1891 a Vincenzo Primavera arrived in the U.S. with a 17 year old Giuseppe Primavera. All the information fits being my Vincenzo and his son Giuseppe, who I knew emigrated to America. The only issue is the arrival date being too soon after Antonio’s marriage. It could come down to them just copying the parent’s information over from the Pubblicazioni di Matrimonio of Antonio and Maria Teresa. That occurred 21 March 1891 so it seems more plausible that he left after that date instead of the actual marriage.
I hope this gives someone help with researching their Italian roots. A tip before I go if you are. When I order the microfilms I save all records with surnames of families I am researching into an unlinked folder for that year and I also save the name index. I enter the names from the index into a spreadsheet that I have for the event and that way I can go back and look for new names in my research and see if I had run across them before or not.
Also keep an eye on Family Search because they are putting these records online. It may keep you from having to order those films.