October 8, 2017

The Search for our Ancestry (XLI)

By Angelo Coniglio
Ancestry refers to the subscription website www.Ancestry.com. Like many other genealogy sites, it continues to grow and add records. Compared to www.familysearch.org, it does not have as many Sicilian and Italian records, but those that it does have are much easier to browse. As mentioned previously, if you prefer not to pay for the service, Ancestry is available for free at many public libraries and at Mormon FamilySearch Centers, also referred to as Family History Centers (also called FamilySearch Centers). Find a Center near you at http://bit.ly/LocateFSCs
To view a town’s civil records of birth, marriage and death on Ancestry, you must know the name of the town’s ‘provincia’, or province (a political subdivision similar to a U. S. state or county). Generally, the largest town in a province also bears the name of the province, as the city of Palermo in Palermo Province; the city of Messina in Messina Province, and so on. Some of the provinces covered by Ancestry include the Sicilian provinces of Caltanissetta, Agrigento, Messina, and Palermo. Provinces on the mainland that are covered include Calabria, Napoli, Liguria, and others.
Enter the Ancestry site and sign in. At the top, select “Search”, then “Card Catalog”. Type in the exact name of the province. If the province is covered, a list of links to records available for it will appear. In some cases, there will be just one link, to the ‘Civil Registration Records’ of the province. Such links will lead to records for fifteen, twenty or more different towns in that province. Or, searching the province name may return a link to just one or two, or several towns in the province. It must be emphasized that the province names must be spelled exactly for these searches to work. You may have to do some preliminary research on the province’s name to be sure you use the modern spelling.  If your ancestors said they came from the province of Girgenti, for example, you need to recognize that Girgenti is now called Agrigento.
Typing a province’s name, such as Caltanissetta, in the Card Catalog search box will return the link Caltanissetta, Sicily, Italy, Civil Registration Records, 1866-1939 (in Italian) Click that link, and you’ll see, on the right, ‘Browse This Collection’. Under ‘Province’ choose Caltanissetta, then click on the ‘Choose Locality’ option and you’ll see a list of twenty-three Caltanissetta provincial towns ranging from Acquaviva Platani to Villalba. Click the one you want, then you’ll be prompted to choose a ‘Record Type’.
The record types available may vary from province to province and town to town but the main ones include the following: Atti di Nascita (Birth Records); Indice Annuale Atti Nascite (Annual Indexes of Births); Atti di Matrimonio (Records of Marriage); Indice Annuale Matrimoni (Annual Indexes of Marriages); Atti di Morte (Records of Death); and Indice Annuale Morti (Annual Indexes of Deaths). Large towns may also have decennale (ten-year) indexes for births, marriages or deaths, and some have records of Pubblicazioni or Notificazioni (Marriage Banns) and corresponding indices.
The next search choice is ‘RecordYear’, and usually includes years from 1866 through 1910. Earlier records for most towns must be accessed via rented microfilms or on-line records viewed at FamilySearch Centers. I usually proceed as follows: say I’m searching for birth records; I select the province, town, and birth index for the year I want: then a page showing images of indexes will be displayed. I find the name I’m looking for and make a note of its ‘Numero di Ordine’ (Record Number). I leave the index pages displayed, then open a new ‘tab’ and follow the steps to open the birth records. Then I page through the images until I find the proper Record Number. In this way, if there are other records in the same year that are of interest to me, I can conveniently switch back and forth between the index and the images of complete records.
Coniglio is the author of the book The Lady of the Wheel, inspired by his Sicilian research. Order the paperback or the Kindle version at http://bit.ly/SicilianStory. Coniglio’s web page at http://bit.ly/AFCGen has helpul hints on genealogic research. If you have genealogy questions, or would like him to lecture to your club or group, e-mail him at genealogytips@aol.com