I finally found the birth certificate of my oldest known relative in the Anacreonte family who was an orphan. I would like to get any of this translated. I know it starts with "da ignoti genitori" which means of unknown parents, but I don't know much about the rest of the handwritten part. This word "Projetto"? is unknown to me, and I'm looking for any other pertinent information here. Thanks for your help.
Foundlings were called proietti and the foundling home the ruota di proietti. The present day Italian word proietti (sing: proietto) means "projectiles" or "missiles". However, in the past proietti could be translated as "foundlings" or "infants given up for adoption" â€“ a meaning that dictionaries no longer mention. A ruota was a type of cabinet revolving on a pivot, used in cloistered convents to give or to receive things from the outside, sort of a turntable in a wall, constructed so that no one could see from who or where things were passed. Hence the name ruota di proietti was given to the foundlingsâ€™ home. Some sources I have found state that the infants were actually passed into the home through such a turntable constructed into a door or wall. The infant was placed on a wheel [sometimes with identifying tokens in case the parent(s) wished to reclaim the child at a later date], spun into the building and a bell would be rung to alert the caregivers. This would preserve the parents' privacy. Other sources state that the child was passed through an open window and placed on a turntable and spun through a curtain instead. Other sources state that the name was figurative in nature and merely reflected the fact that the foundlings passed through the home rather than remain there. In my research in Molise only 3-4% of the abandoned children were later reclaimed or recognized by their parent(s). Atti di Recognizione (recognition of paternity/maternity) are usually found with the Atti Diversi (misc records).
In your document you will note the use of the word ruota, as well as the word proietti. It appears that your ancestor was abandoned at the foundlings home (trovata alla ruota) on 12 JUN 1834, wearing diapers (pannolini) but without a token or other sign (senza...segno). I believe much of the other language refers to the authority of the deputy from the ruota dei proietti, but I'm not fluent in Italian. I did note that the word ruota is followed by what appears to be a modifier. Perhaps the document actually identifies the foundling home, something that I haven't seen in the records of Molise. You might want to check into the history of the town.
Thanks John. Does anyone else see anything that could be informative about this person? For example, who gave him this surname "Anacreonte"? Would that have been the people who found him? How can I find out who raised this person, as all of the later documents do not list parents or foster parents?
Technically, proietti were given their names by the State, either the Mayor, his representative, or some other state official. Of course, it's impossible to know from the records who or what may have influenced this choice. I do know of one proietta who was given the name inscribed on a note left with her. However, sometimes it seems that a town had a general policy it followed. For example, many towns used Esposito or Fortunata as a surname. Michele was an oft-used given name. In my ancestral town they sometimes used variations on established surnames. Some names were descriptive, such as Maltesta or Fiorebella. Some birth records of proietti names the wet nurse (and her husband) with whom the child was placed. Other than that, I know of no way to determine who raised a foundling beyond indirect references in other documents.
Where I live there is a record book of payments made to the wet nurse and the names of the babies given into their care. There is a photo of a ruota on my website. The public ruota has been rivived in Rome where the government, concerned about the number of abandoned babies by the immigrant community installed a 'state of the art' ruota that is heated but where a baby can be left anonymously and safely.
In my research I have noted that foundlings where always given a surname not found in the community. This effectively marked the child as illegitimate!
Italysearcher wrote:In my research I have noted that foundlings where always given a surname not found in the community. This effectively marked the child as illegitimate!
This is exactly the case here. The surname "Anacreonte" was apparently common in Calabria but not found in Milazzo. So every Anacreonte in Milazzo is a direct descendant of this orphan. Thanks for the info!