December 9, 2017

The Search for our Ancestry (XLIII)

On-Line Records, CONTINUED
Angelo Coniglio
My last few columns have dealt with on-line sources of Sicilian and Italian records: familysearch  www.familysearch,org; the Italian Antenati site http://bitly/ItalianRecordsPortal); and Ancestry These are sites that allow viewing (and in many cases downloading and/or printing) of images of original records of actual birth, marriage, death, and other personal records of our ancestors. Below is a brief summary. The images available on each venue are ultimately attributable to their filming by the members of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) church.
familysearch – the free site of the LDS church, with options to build family trees, view tutorials, and locate vital records of all types from around the world.  There is access to civil and ecclesiastical records that have now been digitized for on-line viewing. The previously rented microfilms are still on hand at FHC’s but further rentals are discontinued.
Regions covered: virtually all of Sicily and Italy, but a concise comprehensive list is not presented. You must go to an on-line catalog and search by the town and province of interest.
Time span covered: essentially, whatever period for which records still exist; in some cases, civil records from the early 1800’s through the early 1900’s and church records from as early as the 1400’s.
Access: many records, generally from 1866 through the early 1900’s are accessible on personal computers or devices, requiring only (free) registration on the site. Earlier records require that they be viewed on a FamilySearch Center computer, or by a member of the LDS.

Browsing: the site is in a state of flux. For some towns, the records may be accessed in a format resembling the actual microfilms; several years or categories (birth, marriage, etc.) that must be ‘scrolled’ through sequentially, as on a microfilm reel. For others, that option is available, as well as the option to specifically view one year for one category. The latter sounds easier, but if you don’t know the exact year, scrolling the whole film may be more desirable. In either case, the images are presented in an array of small ‘thumbnail images’ that can be browsed more quickly.
Antenati – the Italian site posts only civil records, in cooperation with LDS.  Directions and links are in the Italian language.
Regions covered: currently, 47 provinces and regions, including 5 of the island of Sicily’s 9 provinces, and several which were part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Time span covered: Napoleonic (1800 – 1815); Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1816 – 1865); and Kingdom of Italy (1866 – early 1900’s). Each of the periods is accessed under separate headings.
Access: free on personal computers or devices, requiring no registration.

Browsing: similar to the familysearch site, but directions are in Italian. A list of provinces provides easy selection at http://bitly/ItalianRecordsPortal.  Categories can be separately selected.
Ancestry – civil records, in cooperation with the LDS. For some records there is a delay as the images are loaded from familysearch.
Regions covered: indeterminate. Click ‘Card Catalog’ under the ‘Search’ menu and type in the name of the town or province.
Time span covered: Kingdom of Italy (1866 – early 1900’s). 
    Access: paid subscription on personal computers or devices, or free at LDS FamilySearch Centers and some public libraries. 

Browsing: In my opinion, the best of the three. The categories, and indices to each category, are listed and accessible separately. 
Once a record is found, I advise that you download it to your computer and/or print it out. The process is different for each venue. On familysearch, some records are restricted from printing or downloading because of agreements with the individual sources. On the Antenati site, as on Ancestry, there is a feature allowing you to save the image to your computer.

If your ancestral town’s records are on all three of these sites, you’re lucky, because records that are missing from one may well be on another. Be sure to check all three. You must embark on your own search, and sometimes learn by trial and error the idiosyncrasies of uncovering your own ancestors’ records.  But it’s worth it!
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 Coniglio’s web page at 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