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Yet another genealogical treasure trove

During all the time I have been updating everyone with more information on familysearch, I seem to have neglected another site with Italian records that everyone who is working with Italian records ought to know about.

This site is an ancestry site for Italy, designed to allow us to search and browse Italian civil registration records. It’s not Ancestry.com, it’s an Italian site called Antenati.

(Antenati: Gli Archivi per la Ricerca Anagrafica, http://www.antenati.san.beniculturali.it/?lang=en)

You can leave the language for the website in Italian if you wish!

Antenati contains the same records typically available on familysearch, and on microfilm in the old days, but more of them. Due to sheer volume, a small percentage of Italian civil registration records are available on familysearch, but this site has a much larger percentage. Eventually familysearch will catch up, but the records on this site may be negotiated by different people and might contain some items not available on familysearch.

So this site is supposed to have records from three eras: Napoleonic Civil Registers (1806-1815), Monarchy Restoration Civil Registry (1815-1865) and Italian national civil registry (1866-recent). Due to privacy laws, only births 100 years old, and marriages 75 years and deaths 75 years old are on this site. Familysearch has some births as late as 1929 from Italy, so these will probably never appear on this site until 2029. I am not aware if they plan to add one year every year when records reach 100 years etc.

The records on this site are meant to be indexed, and you can search the index for your family names. However, only a small percentage of the records have actually been indexed, similar to familysearch. So you can try to find people but don’t be surprised if they are not yet indexed.

The best use of this site at the moment is for browsing the records. As with microfilm, it is best to find the index for the year you look at, find the name you want, record the sequential number of that record, and then go to that sequential number on the film. The difference here is that you need to find the sequential number and then find the right image. How is that done? Well, let’s discuss how the site is structured first.

To see all the areas that have records included in the site, you need to see the Sfoglia I registri and look for the correct Archive (Archivio di Stato). These are usually grouped by province.

http://dl.antenati.san.beniculturali.it/?q=gallery

So let’s choose the Archivio di Stato di Avellino to start with.

Typically no matter which Archive you select, your first choice is to choose the era (as described earlier). Then you see a set of links to the towns that have records in the archive. Not all towns may be on the screen at first. If your town name starts with a letter that is nearer the end of the alphabet, you may have to click “successivo” to get to the next page of town names. “Ultima” gets you to the last page of the list of towns. The word “precedente” takes you back one page, and “Primo” obviously takes you to the first page of the list. In fact, anywhere on this site, those four words help you navigate from page to page if there is more than one page of anything. There is also a “pagina” and a number, although they’re very small, but you can click on the number to jump directly to pagina 4 if that’s what you want.

Anyway now you see a list of the towns with records in this archive, and you can either go to another page, or click the name of a town here. So let’s click Bagnoli Irpino. Now you see a list of record types, which probably does not take more than one page. At this point, you may be wondering why the names of the records and a lot of the site is in Italian when you clicked “English”. Your guess is as good as mine! If you try to change the language, it will take you back to the home page!

So now you see a list of record types, in Italian.

Cittadinanze = citizenship

Allegati = Attchments (supporting documents for marriages or deaths)

Nati = births

Morti = deaths

Matrimoni = marriages

Pubblicazioni = marriage banns

So you need to click on the record type you want. Let’s click Matrimoni.

Now you see a list of years – you have to pick one year and click it. I noticed that they have marriages as late as 1945, which are not available on familysearch at all. So I click 1945.

There is a number on the next page. “258” What does it mean? I have no idea. Click it to get to the first page of images.

You will now see 57 images and a line under each one “immagine” and the number. Apparently there were only 57 pages of marriages in 1945.

Now comes the tricky part – the thumbnails are quite small and it’s hard to tell whether there are records or indexes on a page, but you want to find the index, so you can search for the sequential image number you need. Try clicking on an image near the beginning or near the end of the images. You’ll find that the first page or two may be title pages and the last few pages might be records from out of town, that come up AFTER the index. Look for a pattern in the thumbnail that looks a little different than the others and click on that. As usual, you may have to pick the “prima” and the “ultima” groups of images to get to the beginning and end of the images.

Once you click on an image, it will show you a larger copy but it’s not always readable with my tired old eyes. You can click the larger image and it will come up much larger and you can zoom in or out. That’s better! If you’re on an index page, you can go from page to page using Precedente and sucessivo. Find the index entry that you want.

Once you find the name(s) you want, you can write down the sequential number(s). Now you need to find the pages that have those sequential numbers. I want to make it easier for you than just browsing page by page until you find record 719…. So here’s an easier way. You need to know how many records are on each image. Most marriages take up their own page. Births can be two pages, or even four back in the 1820s. From 1875 and later, the page will have a full record and part of another, and the next page will have the conclusion of the previous record and one more full one. So for every two pages, there are three births. Deaths should be two to a page.

So now you can do some math to calculate how to get close to your sequential number without taking too long. It’s one and a half records per image, so take the 50 and divide by 1.5. Comes out to 33 and a decimal. So go to image 33. You won’t be on the exact sequential number you want but you’ll be close. Now you can sucessivo a few pages until you get to the image you want.

All I can say is that you should check this site to see if it has records that have never been on familysearch, and despite language and navigation awkwardness of the site itself, you might find records you never knew were available before! Happy hunting!

Write to Dan at italianroots@comcast.net and please put “Fra Noi” in the subject.

About Dan Niemiec

Dan Niemiec has been the genealogy columnist for Fra Noi since 2004. For the past 25 years, he has researched his genealogy back 17 generations, plus tracing descendants of his ancestors, yielding 74,000 relatives. His major focus is on civil and church records in Italy, Chicago vital records, Chicago Catholic records and most major genealogy web sites. He has given dozens of presentations to many local and some national genealogy societies on topics such as cemetery research, Catholic records, Italian records, Ellis Island and newspaper research, among others.