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Celebrating Columbus Day by Researching your Italian Ancestors

Celebrate Columbus Day 2006 by researching your Italian roots.


Content Details

Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by: Gena Philibert-Ortega
Word Count: 627 (approx.)
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The second Monday of October is set aside to celebrate the arrival of Columbus to the "New World." According to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, Columbus Day was first celebrated in San Francisco in 1869. It was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who declared Columbus Day a national holiday. While this holiday may be controversial for some, it is a way for Italians to celebrate their heritage and remember not just Columbus, but all of their Italian ancestors.

One resource for Italian genealogy web sites is the web site of Genealogy Today's owner and publisher, Illya D'Addezio, found at D' This web site will provide you information on Italian history, links to such genealogical necessities as vital records, military and cemetery records, and products that can help in your research. One of the databases available through D'Addezio's site is the names of the 355 Italian men who were killed on orders of Hitler in March 1944. The killing was in revenge for a partisan attack on the Nazi SS in German occupied Rome. Hitler ordered that ten Italians should be murdered for each German that was killed. Surnames of these Italians who were killed in the Ardeatine caves are searchable through this web site.

The web site provides some great articles for those who need to know more about researching Italian ancestors. Articles include a history of Italy, naming patterns, a history of Italian regions and Italian medieval genealogical research. These articles will help provide you with the information you need to begin your research. This web site also contains vintage and new photos of Italy which could help you get a better sense of your ancestor's home. < p>

Kimberly Powell of has a beginner's lesson in Italian genealogy at This primer explains some concepts in Italian genealogy and then goes into various records and when they were available. Records explained include civil registration, church registers, census, military, and certificate of family status.

Currently, has few Italians records but those that they do have include, Palermo, Italy Index of Births 1876-1885; the World Foreign Gazetteer and Indagini storiche, artistiche e bibliographiche sulla Liberia Visconteo-Sforzesca del Castello di Pavia.

The World Gen Web ( includes a section on Italian research. Unlike the US GenWeb, which boasts transcriptions and records online for various states and counties in the United States, the Italian site for the World Gen Web has more informational and lacks searchable records.

For those whose Italian ancestors went to Maryland, the web site "Immigrant Communities in Maryland" has a great article about Italian immigration to Maryland. A timeline and information about customs, the Italian community, and immigration in the industrial and modern era provides some much needed information on the immigrant experience. A sources link provides the reader with additional books and web sites that will help in your research. This web site also includes information on other immigrant communities, including African American, Asian, Eastern European, German, Irish, and Hispanic.

A Research Guide for Italy, letter writing guide, and a Latin genealogical word list is available through the Family History web site, To find what records the Family History Library in Salt Lake City has for your Italian ancestors, go to the web site at and then click on the "Library" tab found at the top of the screen. From the Library page, select "Family History Library Catalog." This will take you to the search page for the Library catalog. From there you can view resources for Italy and its regions.

Some books that may be of help to you include, A Genealogists Guide to Discovering your Italian Ancestors by Lynn Nelson (ISBN: 1558706933) and Italian Genealogical Records: How to Use Italian Civil, Ecclesiastical, and other Records in Family History Research by Trafford R. Cole (ISBN: 0916489582).

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2006.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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