“Italian Genealogy Hands-On”: Civil Status Records


Among the many sets of source documents a genealogist may look through during a research project, civil status records are above anyone else in terms of how frequentely they’re looked for. This crucial kind of records in fact includes birth, marriage, death, citizenship registries, together with some other “diverse” records. registers
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1846: Birth Record
Most Italian civil records started on Jan 1st 1809 (except those taken in Sicily, which started off only in 1820), at a time when town administrations were asked (as by law enacted) to register births, adopotions, marriages and deaths.
Their records though were reflecting the same structure the parish records had been following since mid-1500s, as a result of the Trento Council reforms (period: 1545-1563).
Civil status registries, after a prior validation by the Civil Court, had to be filed in double copies: one would be stored at the town archives, while the other was sent to the Chancellor’s office at the local court.
70 years after, the Chancellor would hence send the records’ books to the closest State Archives (the one in the province which the towns belong to).

In general, civil records portray most of the genealogical information you may get in a research, i.e. one’s name and family name, birth date and place, family relationships info, job, marriage date and place (and spouse’s name too), and also death date and place. Mostly in the case of birth records, it is quite often likely to find some useful annotations at the side of the record itself, which would tell more complementary information on the individual the document is about.


In the course of time, though, as well as for many other kinds of documents, civil records taking didn’t follow homogeneous and common rules throughout the whole country.
For instance, civil records were established even in 1806 in Venice and used thru the whole Napoleon era. However, they were made to be ceased when the Austrian Empire took over back on the “Serenissima” – an epithet Venice is known for. Namely, marriage records taking was stopped on Jun 30, 1815, and birth and death ones on Dec 31, 1815.
Parish priest were then considered again the sole officials entitled to record those documents, and they took back this competence on Jul 1, 1816 (for what concerns marriage records), while they started earlier having such a competence on birth and death records, i.e. Jan 1, 1816.
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1851: Marriage Record

Civil status reintroduction took definitively place on Sep 1, 1871, when the Mantova province (and the whole Veneto region) were unified by law to the rest of the Italian Kingdom.

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