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Italian: Language and Location
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NOTE: This course requires compulsory materials to be ordered. Please click on the Supplies tab for details.

Understanding, or being able to decipher, the languages found with Italian genealogical documents is an essential skill needed to effectively research your Italian ancestors. While most records are in Italian, you will find other languages within the records depending on the history of the town or region you are researching. Emphasis is placed on reading the handwriting and how to translate and understand basic Italian records.

While topics discussed in this course will give you a solid understanding of the basics needed to understand Italian genealogical records, we cannot cover everything in the space allotted for this course. After the course ends, you will need to take time to study the language, the handwriting, as well as the cultural context of the records, in order to fully understand what the records your ancestors left behind truly reveal.

Locating places within Italy can be confusing until you understand the political and ecclesiastical jurisdictions. We will review these jurisdictions and look at a variety of ways that will help you narrow your search for your ancestor’s town of origin. If you already know the town of origin, this section may help as your research expands as the research often leads into nearby towns, due to the practice of marrying outside a town’s populace.

Course Content

Module 1
• Note about Web Addresses
• Websites
• Language Guides/Word Lists
• Italian Occupations
• Required Reading
The Records will be in Italian, right? After all, it is Italy
• Other Languages Within the Records
Italian in Genealogical Documents - Part 1
• Abbreviations
• Abbreviations Example 1
• Abbreviations Example 2
• Language Resources

Module 2
Italian in Genealogical Documents - Part 2 - The Handwriting
• Websites
• Introduction
• Practical Exercise
• Exercise - Handwriting Example #12
• Should I Translate the Whole Record?
• Birth Record of Serafina Mattei
• Death Record of Girolamo Mattei
• Why Understanding the Form/Type of Document is Important

Module 3
Working with the Records
• Introduction
• Example Birth Record - Erminio Ovidio Santoro
• Example Birth Record - Domenico Bernardo
• Example First Marriage Bann - Mariano “proietto” and Maria Alberti
• Example Death Record - Lorenzo D’Alo’
• Exercise - Death Record

Module 4
Spanish and French in Genealogical Documents
• Websites
• Spanish Genealogical Records
• French Genealogical Records
• Understanding French Documents

Module 5
Using Italian Archives for Genealogical Research
• Websites
Review of Political Jurisdictions
• Accessing Italian Archives
• Archivio Comunale – Town Archives
• Biblioteca Comunale – Town Library
• Google and the Italian Ministry of Culture’s Digitization Agreement
• Archivio di Stato – State/Provincial Archive
• Archivio Parrochiale and Archivio Diocesano – Parish and Diocesan Archives

Module 6
Help Me! Where was my Ancestor Born? Finding Your Ancestor's Town of Origin
• Websites
• A Few Last Tips to Narrow Your Search
• Cultural
• Port of Emigration
• Exercise
• Look Beyond the Obvious
• Final Summary

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