Southern Italy Genealogical Research Center

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Every genealogical research is based on the consultation of ecclesiastical and civil archives located in the territory of origin of the family.

It is therefore necessary to rely on the services of professional experts able to read ancient documents, which often implies a good knowledge of Latin as well as a methodological research approach.

Among the main sources that we utilize, we may cite:

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Civil State Acts

Civil State ActsThe filing of birth, weddings and death by the officials of the Civil State started, for the Kingdom of Naples, back in 1809. In Sicily these filing started in 1820. These acts were made in two copies, one of which had to be sent every year to the competent Court Chancellery of the territory. Therefore, still today it is possible to find these registers both at the City register Offices or at State Archives that keeps all the copies deposited at the Courts (usually until 1865 though some archives have registers up to the beginning of 20th Century). In consideration of the fact that the research of a genealogical tree goes backwards, starting from actual members of the family, it is clear that the research of civil state acts is the first stage of the research.

Parish Registers

Parish Registers

Due to their tradition in preserving even very ancient documents, parish archives are the main source for any genealogic research. In 1563 the Council of Trento obliged all churches to file into their registers every baptism, wedding and death.


Parish RegistersSuch filings, once very basic (at the beginning the name of the mother was not even mentioned), became with the time more and more detailed and these details greatly help us today to track, for every family member, an exhaustive biographic profile. Generally, parish registers have been duly updated and preserved even when wars, fires and natural events have sometimes jeopardized their preservation status.

Notary deeds

Notary deedsNotary deeds kept in the State Archives and at the Notary Archives is very useful to track a genealogy. Sometimes these documents are even older than parish ones, thus allowing to go further backwards in time. Notary deeds, extremely useful also in case of lost parish documentation. Some notary deeds such as wills or wedding contracts, are rich of genealogical information. Furthermore, consulting a notary documentation can also help us getting a clearer picture of the social and economic situation of the family.

Catasti Onciari e Riveli (Civil Census)

Catasti Onciari e Riveli (Civil Census)

The adoption of the Catasti Onciari (Civil Census) in 1741 by King Charles III Bourbon, intended to introduce a modern taxation system on properties and industries. The citizens of Naples and of its territories were exempted from the payment of these taxes and were therefore not obliged to form the land register. In the rest of the kingdom, all "Universities" (at that time, this was the name given to the village administrations) were forced to correspond the due taxes and therefore to contribute to the formation of the registers; taxes were divided into various segments, according to the type of possession. They were basically divided into: 1) citizens including widows and virgins; 2) members of the clergy; 3)churches and religious places of the country; 4) non resident owners; 5) religious owners; 6) foreign churches and religious places. The register was named Onciari since for the evaluation of the taxes to be paid a new currency called Oncia (ounce) was introduced. The Oncia is no longer in use.

Catasti Onciari e Riveli (Civil Census)

Catasti Onciari are documents of primary importance in the reconstruction of a genealogical tree of a family, since they represent a great source of information not only related to its economic status but also to its composition at the time of filing. It includes the name of the householder, his age and his place of birth (if foreigner); sometimes it is possible to find also the name of his father and mother; in addition to this, it also registers the given name, the family name and age of his wife, the names and age of children and all the information concerning relatives, servants and personnel working for him. Catasti Onciari (whose biggest collection is held at the State Archive of Naples) allow us to reconstruct the economic and social history of all villages of Southern Italy during the 18th century. In Sicily the equivalent of Catasti Onciari was called “Riveli di beni ed anime" (Register of goods and souls); they were filled by single villages administrations on behalf of the "Magna Curia dei Maestri Razionali” that, as from 1569, was called Tribunale del Real Patrimonio (Court of Kingdom patrimony), that was the main control and juridical organism for financial issues. In 1682, all competences of the Court concerning the “Riveli” were passed on to the Deputazione del Regno (Deputation of the Kingdom). The numerous registers kept at the State Archive of Palermo concern all Sicilian villages and cover periods from the 16th to the 18th centuries: it is possible to find registers filed in 1548, 1569, 1584, 1593, 1607, 1616, 1623, 1636, 1651, 1682, 1714 and 1748. “Riveli” are therefore a huge source of information in addition to the information available on parish registers but also in replacement of those perish registers that are partially unavailable or gone forever.