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 The research should be based on geographic and historical references and on kinship relations (filiation, brotherhood and marriage), in order to go, following a general rule, back on time.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.