Can't say which would be easier to obtain in your particular case, but I've had more luck in my search getting my hands on civil records than church records.
Civil & census records will be in Italian, the older church records will likely be in Latin. Alot of the accessability issues will center around the city or town you're dealing with, some have better records than others. Remember, many documents may have been lost or destroyed in wars, natural disasters, etc.
Most Italian cities & towns have websites of their own, which you can use as a starting point to get records & contact names, as civil servants & town managers may be listed. You might want to try finding that info out by searching on Google for the town's name. This was successful in my research. GOOD LUCK!
Hi: Public records are more easy that church records...many documents in public offices are in real time, others from common's archives are around 4/5 days (with good luck!); in the church the priest normally not are very available for this things, and they employ more time in order to prepare certifys ; if instead personally you want to read the registries, then the issue is more difficult... suanj
I am not interested in obtaining certified documents during my visit. I want to personally review the registries to gather info about as many relatives as possible.
I only have good details about my father. Documents I have received about my grandmother and grandfather are confused with other people with the same name.
I spent $300 for a Stato di Famiglia that shows my grandfather getting married when he was 40 years old living in the US and the bride was 11 years old living in Italy! All the people in the document belong to somebody else's family.
I need go through the registries myself to trace my ancestors and get some basic information, then when I return home I can request the correct certified documents.
Any thoughts on how to best view church and civil registries would be greatly appreciated.
The best way to get the records is to see if they are on microfilm at the Family History Library. If the town was in the Central or Southern part of Italy, good chance the records are on microfilm and you can view them from home at your own pace. Also, these will be the only ones you can make actual "copies" of the orignals. All the records sent from Italy are transcribed...no xerox copies of the originals are allowed, so copies of the filmed version come as close to the originals as possible.
If you are going to look at them in Italy, you may wish to make an appointment ahead of time in order to guarantee time to see them. I doubt that you would be allowed unfetted access. The Civil records will be easier... If you have already gotten info from them and wish to get back before 1810 or so, then you can look at the church records. But most churches do not allow more then a couple of books to be gone through at any one time. You must know what books you seek to not waste time.
If I had paid that much for incorrect records, I would want them to redo it..but not sure how you would accomplish this. What town are you looking at? What is the name you seek?
I have visited the FHL several times. Since the town where my father was born is up north (halfway between Trento and Belluno), there are no microfilms. In addition, they are unable to say when they will reach that area. I have also searched http://www.paginebianche.it for addresses of people to send letters to, but no replies yet.
I will be in Italy next month to attempt to see what records I can get access to. My grandfather (Antonio Bottegal) and grandmother (Anna Cengia) were born around 1885, so I don't have to go back before 1810 yet.
The name of the town where my father was born (I have received his certified birth record) is San Donato, a frazione of Lamon, which is near Feltre. The town is very small (pop. less than 80), with half of the people having the name Bottegal. However, it appears that there are 4 different groups of Bottegal families which are not related to each other living there and in the surrounding area. Thus the confusion with names and dates.
The incorrect records that I received were fudged - they took a Bottegal family of about 30 people and stuck my father and grandfather in, but there are some obvious problems like I described in the message above. Given the quality of their first report, I would have little faith that another report would be any more reliable.
I can now answer my own question, based upon my recent experience (I have just returned from 18 days in Italy).
First a little background: I went with a fellow named John who was born in 1930 in the US, but grew up in Italy from age 3 to 19. He is fluent in Italian, Latin and English.
We went to the priest (who spoke no English) in the little parish where my father was born and asked for premission to see the records. He flatly refused, said they were very dificult to understand, the handwriting was very difficult to read, only experts could understand them, he was very busy and had no time to help us, etc., etc.
After much discussion and pleading, the priest brought out a book, opened it to my father's birth record, and showed it to us, so that we could see that it would too dificult for us. It turned out that John could decipher the record better than the priest could!
At that point the priest had little grounds for withholding the records - he brought out all the other record books, put us in a room, and left us alone to do our research. I found much valuable info, and rather than transcribing it, I just photographed the relevant pages and entries.
John mentioned that, while doing his own genealogy, all the priests that he had talked to about access to records had given him a similar response - NO, NO, NO, for a variety of reasons.
Later, while chatting with people in the town, I discovered a new relative. I went to his house to talk with him in detail and discovered that he worked for the civil records in the town. He asked me what info I would like copies of - it was as simple as that.
John described his interactions, while doing his own genealogy, with the people at civil records. There was always some kind of problem: they needed to have a special form filled out; the mayor had to approve the form; there was no response to his request yet; delay, delay, delay. Sometimes he would eventually just give up, which is what they were hoping for.
So the bottom line is: either way can be frustrating - it all depends on your connections. Find a local relative willing to be helpful, have him go to someone he knows, who can then go to someone he knows, (etc.) who can persuade the priest or official to give you the records.
AMEN! This is a good thing for those people who are smug enough to feel that just by giving a website or an address they have done enough. Often I have directed people to specific areas since what they were looking for would have been difficult because what they were looking for would nopt be easy to obtain even thugh on paper it sounded like it was the way to go. Sometimes it pays to slug it out and sometimes it pays just to go elsewhere for the information and sometimes it pays to hire someone to do the job for you!! Peter
I found that it is important to pursue mutiple paths at the same time, because they can give conflicting info, different dates. Sometimes one of the dates will "click" and the puzzle will begin fall into place.
Peter & Suanj: Thanks for your help on this and other queries.
I agree with your findings that working in person, in the town, through a local relative or friend with "connections" in local gov't is the best way to go.
My recent experience in Acerra (Naples), where my family is from, was amazing...the head of the Ufficio Anagrafe turned out to be my cousin's aunt, so we had everything I wanted at my disposal. I'm sure I'd never have gotten those records, the Situazione Storica della Famiglia, etc, if I had not had that personal connection.
Second, I have not yet, in any of my personal family searches, ever had any response from any church I have contacted in Italy. Best to work through the Mormon Family Research Centers for church documents.