Italy has a genealogy website Italian descendants love. With some luck, it may contain your ancestor's birth, marriage and death records.
For me, it's the ultimate at-home research tool.
I spent about five years visiting Family History Centers to view microfilmed vital records from my maternal grandfather's hometown in Italy.
I documented everything, piecing together 15,000 relatives. But my current job doesn't allow me the time to continue in this way.
One caveat: You must know the hometown of your ancestor.
Here's how to use this Italian genealogy site without understanding Italian.
At the end of this explanation, I'll tell you how to download entire collections of images automatically.
- PROVINCE. Click your ancestor's province. If you know their town, you can Google it to find out its province. A province is roughly the equivalent of a county in the U.S.
- TIME PERIOD. Click a time period:
- Stato civile napoleonico—The Napoleonic Era in Italy lasted from 1805 through 1814. These documents may cover a portion of those year and run through 1815.
- Stato civile della restaurazione—This Restoration Period (1816–1860) spans the time between the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the unification of Italy.
- Stato civile italiano—These are civil records beginning in 1861.
- TOWN. Click your ancestor's hometown.
- RECORD TYPE. Click the type of document, including:
- Diversi—Various documents not included in other sets may be birth records for illegitimate babies, death records for stillborn babies, or marriage records.
- Matrimoni—Marriage licenses may include the date of the wedding and the name of the church.
- Matrimoni, pubblicazioni—Couples who wanted to marry had to publicly post their intentions twice before getting permission to marry.
- Matrimoni, processetti—Each marriage generated several documents including (a) the birth certificates of bride and groom, (b) the death records for their deceased parents, and if the bride or groom's father was dead, you might also see their grandfather's death record, (c) their permission to marry, and (d) the date of their wedding in the church.
- Morti—Death records.
- Nati—Birth records.
- Cittadinanze—Citizenship records.
- Allegati—These are additional records for any of the above categories.
- YEAR. One by one, click a year, then click the archive number (it's the only thing on the page) to see the list of images (immagine), 45 per page.
- ENLARGE. When you select an image, click the image itself to enlarge it.
- SAVE. You can right-click the enlarged image and choose Save Image As, or save time by right-clicking the unenlarged image and choosing Save Link As.
I spent weeks downloading the records from my paternal grandfather's town one at a time. Then I learned about a software app called GetLinks that sped up the process so much, I went on to download my great grandmother's entire town in two days!
This is a simple program written by someone who speaks Portuguese. You only need to learn a couple of words to use the app. Here is a link to the download (click the Descarregar button), and here's how to use it:
- Download the file and double-click to expand it. Then double-click to run the program is called ArchiveDownload.jar.
- At the top, click Opções (Options), then click Opções again.
- Set the location where you want the downloaded images to go by clicking the “…” button next to the words Pasta de Download. (Pasta means folder.)
- I find that 3 simultaneous downloads works efficiently. If you will be accessing Familysearch.org, enter your login info on this screen. Click OK.
- Back on the main screen there's an address box beneath the Ficheiro and Opções options. Into this box, paste the URL of the folder you want to access. For the Antenati site, that address would be at this level, for example: http://antenati.san.beniculturali.it/v/Archivio+di+Stato+di+Benevento/Stato+civile+della+restaurazione/Baselice/Morti/1816/160/
- Click the Go! button. If things don't start happening within 2 seconds, look at the Download button on the right. If it is red and says “Download: Off”, click it so it's green and says “Download: On”.
Doing this, I downloaded every record from 2 or 3 towns in a few sittings.
Bottom line: If your town is included, your life is about to change for the better.