I am not new to genealogy, but very new to Italian genealogy, and would appreciate any input at all from those more experienced. Over the past few weeks, I have been making requests via email for vital records of relatives from Northern Italy (all now deceased). My understanding is that the preferred way of obtaining records is by sending a written request (hard copy) with proof of ID and a stamped envelope to the appropriate comune, but this is time consuming and not practical if one does not know for certain where the relative was born. For example, I have a relative who I believe was born in one of two possible places, abut I am unsure which of the two is correct. I figured email would be easiest (at least a preliminary inquiry), but have not heard back from either comune. Does anybody have experience or general advice about the best way to proceed? Also, if I do hear back, and the response provides additional information (e.g. parents' names) is it best to followup with the same person or write an entirely new email when seeking records for the earlier generation? I did receive a response last year to an email inquiring about a grandparent that provided an exact birthdate as well as the father's name (and most importantly, confirmation that the record was in existence at the commune). I was then able to order the certificate online without the hassle of the stamped envelope and letter writing. I am curious to hear how others proceed in requesting records and subsequent records from a place like Italy, when there are few digitized records available online. Thanks again for any input.
This is my experience, so take it for what it's worth!
I have sent ground/postal mail in business letter format to the comunes that hold records about which I am certain (or fairly certain) are in their holdings.
My letters carry a centered heading at the top with name,address,phone number, email, etc., just as you'd write to Bank of America (or I'm assuming you would write to BoA).
I have also included a copy of my passport, for identification/verification, as well as a copy of whatever information I already have that correlates to whatever I'm seeking. All are stapled to my letter. Remember to purchase 'forever' global mail stamps, or use $1.10 for the first ounce, etc.
A bother? Yes. Maybe those in Italy on this board would disagree with me, but, frankly,from what I've read over and over again, we are a bother to officials in the comunes. The more professional your letter, the more information you supply, the better your chances (I have found) that you will have a reply. Remember, your letter is asking officials to step away from their usual work to answer a question they might well find a time-waster and irrelevant!
So, take the time to do the work, do not send a return envelope or any Euros, etc., and, as has happened to me time and again, I've received photocopies of records from officials by return postal mail without charge and have also received replies by email in response to my snail mail. Once I've received an email reply, then I use email for further correspondence.
Italian records are available at Ancestry, at Family Search and at http://antenati.san.beniculturali.it/home Not everything, of course, but you may be fortunate that the comunes you're seeking have their records on line.
First thing sometimes your email might have a postal response I will say 50/50 on your response being postal Wait at least 45 days for a email response if no response then send a postal request no money I have no luck with return envelopes only the ones which I had Italian stamps on because ours don't work there Also be precise and to the point don't run on and on. PERSON PLACE DATES is what I say. Every commune is different some respond immediately some 3 or 4 months some not at all.Thats why I always try to get my records here online or pay for films at FHL first before I go overseas and try to email or mail for records. THe archivio di stato's (1810-1865)e easier to deal with they charge usually 6.75 Euro which includes the record and mailing the record to you
Thank you both for thee replies, and all the useful tips and information. So it sounds like it this is a long process, with no guarantees. Hard for me, since I tend to be pretty impatient when it comes to these things! The digital archives elsewhere in Europe are great - you are in full command, and with some persistence, you can find a lot of information in a matter of hours.
What about hiring a professional genealogist who is local to the area? Would such an individual be able to visit the comune in person and obtain the record -or would there still be a hold up or other problems?
May I also ask- if writing, is a drivers license not an acceptable proof of ID? Do I need to send a copy of my passport?
Thank you again. I am very motivated to build this tree, but it is starting to seem like an incredibly difficult endeavor.
@bvbellomo: yes, I have checked. There may be one or two. But not much luck.
In my experience you need to include an addressed envelope. Addresses are written differently here and if you have addressed the envelope (no stamp) you are sure to receive it by return. Drivers licenses are acceptable. I suggest you keep your request simple and direct with no explanation of how and why. The clerk really doesn't care.
Thanks for the additional information. Also -does anybody happen know whether it is acceptable to request records of an aunt or uncle, or their parents, if the person making the request is not in the direct line of descent? For example, if I request birth certificates of two brothers and their father, it is clear that I can only be a direct descendant of one of the brothers. What would the comune do in such a case? I have asked this before, but nobody seemed to know the answer.
You do not need to be a direct descendant of the persons whose acts you are requesting; this is only the interpretation of the law given by clerks who don't want to do it, or afraid of some privacy problem. The law states that after 70 years from the act, a copy can be requested by anyone who "is interested in it". This does not mean that only a direct descendant can do it. On the other hand, in most cases you request documents just to have a proof you're a descendant of a person, and not the contrary!
Giuseppe "Pippo" Moccaldi
Certificate requests and genealogical searches in Italy. Translation of your old documents and letters. Legal assistance for your Italian citizenship.
Thank you very much for the helpful reply. The reason I asked is because I have a grandparent's birth certificate, but it only has information about the father - not the mother. I know the exact birth year of the grandparent's younger brother, and thought there was a chance that some new information might appear. Long shot, but worth trying. Thank you again. This is what I suspected to be the case, and it makes perfect sense.