The genealogic research

The research of your own origins and the reconstruction of your family history starts by tracing your affinities and kinship relationships. But the reconstruction of a genealogical thread, of the ascendancy table by quarters and the family tree is not but a first step towards getting to know your own family, and you will know […]

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How to start a genealogical tree with thick foliage

How it will be clear from the fact that I always write about that, I like the story. Much. This stems from the fact that since I was a child I spent hours and hours browsing in public offices, abandoned churches and State Archives alongside my mother, while we were rebuilding the Corato family tree.

After I recently talked about my great-great-grandfather , I was asked several times for help to start a family tree. So I decided to consult once again with Mrs. Vania and put down a little basic tutorial. What then turned into a ten-page project body 10 single interline, so I warn you: make yourself a cup of tea before you start reading.

I do not promise to teach you the genealogy and make you become Henry Louis Gates Jr. – after all I am an amateur, and Mrs. Vania is only very practical – but at least you will have an idea of ​​how to start, and where you could get. I warn you that it takes a lot of patience and even a little luck.

I divided the “tutorial” into three parts: basic, intermediate and advanced. Even if you stop only at the basic level, you should still go to the end of the article and read the tips / notes, which will clarify many small things. Ready? Here we go.

1) What you know is the starting point of your research.
Start with easy things, transcribing the information of all your relatives you know. The basic data are name and surname with possible nicknames, profession, places and dates of birth, death and marriage. Brothers, parents, uncles, grandparents, cousins, madness, everyone who comes to mind.

As we will see later, the places are really important when doing genealogical research in Italy: if possible, marked the exact parish where religious events were held such as weddings, baptisms, deaths.

2) Ask everyone what they know.
As above: siblings, parents, uncles, grandparents, cousins, prozie matte etc. Typical questions can be: do you remember the name of your grandfather / grandmother? Do you remember when he was born / dead? Where is it? Do you know what work it did? Do you know if he had brothers? And then: do you remember what your grandfather’s / grandmother’s parents were called?

Everyone is embarrassed at first and they say they do not remember anything: they are patient. An effective method for collecting essential data is to proceed with anecdotes, which are increasingly more natural than schematic information.

A good idea may be to record the interviews you make, so as to keep a copy of all the stories that are told. You never know what might come in handy.

3) Take a nice ride to the cemetery. Or to various cemeteries.
Missing dates and other information can be collected easily: just find the gravestone of your ancestor! I know, it’s a bit ‘macabre, but then what did you expect?
All the municipalities have a cemetery office where, by giving the name and approximate date of death, the position of a burial can be traced.

This is the first moment when it will be useful to have talked to your relatives and have marked the parish of belonging: especially if there are several cemeteries, you will know where to look.
Keep your eyes wide open! Often related people are buried nearby, and this can provide other names and places to engage.

4) To rummage drawers, to turn attics, to empty cabinets.
In theory this point could be done together with point 2, but showing a minimum of research already carried out will certainly make your relatives more likely to let you investigate in their homes.

The most unexpected objects can come in handy: photographs, saintly pictures, birth announcements, wedding invitations, newspaper clippings. This phase is a bit ‘chaotic, but rearranged this material, you’ll be amazed at how much information you’ve already collected!

While you’re there, you’d better scan the photos that interest you and store them neatly.

The genealogic research

The research of your own origins and the reconstruction of your family history starts by tracing your affinities and kinship relationships. But the reconstruction of a genealogical thread, of the ascendancy table by quarters and the family tree is not but a first step towards getting to know your own family, and you will know them deeper through the study of the documents that tell us about the ways of life, the alphabetization, the places where they lived, the occupations and jobs they did, etc. Thanks to their particular stories we can create a complex and articulate picture of the italian society through the generations.

Where can I begin my research? How can I trace my ancestors? The essential sources for research are generally divided in two types: private sources, within which we can find personal memories (direct sources) and the oral tradition of each family (indirect sources) but the family and personal archives as well; public sources, as the Civil Registry, the military records and the Parish books; and the equally important notarial acts, registries and professional registries, even if those sources don’t hold the same amount of genealogical information as the abovementioned sources. Other public sources that contain personal data are the Police, Prefect and Court Archives, and the archives of the care public services, such as orphanages, hospitals, etc.

Actually, genealogical research needs evidences, like any other research, and not a single document, even an accounting record, can be dismissed as irrelevant, since any document can bring us new information or redirect us to other documents with which we can dig deeper on our research.

But to start it’s necessary to take a look at the “serial” sources, that is to say, the registries and documents issued and preserved by public institutions or the Church, now accessible through the State Archives and other historical archives. The research should be based on geographic and historical references and on kinship relations (filiation, brotherhood and marriage), in order to go, following a general rule, back on time. So, in order to research personal data of a personal forefather, starting from a date that we know, which generally has been taken from documents or news, it is recommended to act in the following way:

From January 1st 1866 on, it is appropriate to check the Civil Registry, the Parish books or military sources;
From December 31 1865 to the first years of the 17th century, it is advisable to do your research with the help of Parish books (in some particular areas and cases Parish books are older and go back to the 14th century);
From the oldest Parish book to the 13th century you should do your research through notarial acts, estimations and censuses;
If we go beyond the 13th century, in theory, we can trace the footprints of our outermost forefathers in the diplomatic documents of the nobility, city hall and oldest monasteries and churches archives.