Thursday, May 21, 2015

Evaluating the Evidentiary Value of an Italian Record

Now let's take a look at the document I posted on 15 May 2015, the decree of Giuseppe Fedele Covi, and discuss the evidentiary value of the different pieces of information the document contains. I've set my comments apart from the text of the document by placing them in red below.

"Decree number: 3508
Year: 1853

The Illustrious Magistrate

The undersigned, Giuseppe Fedele Covi, who resides in this city, provided the following answers to the [Magistrate’s] humble questions.


1.     He is a native of [the town of] Seio, District of Trento in the Tirolo [Tyrol].
2.     He married here [in Trieste] and is the father of three children.
3.     He has resided here [in Trieste] since 1829.
4.     He is the owner of grocery store number 967, approved by Magistrate Decree Number 12830 on 27 November 1852.
5.     He has never been convicted [of anything criminal].
6.     He earns sufficient money to maintain his family.


In the hope of attaining the grace of all, he signs [his signature below:]

Trieste, 19 March 1853
Signature of Giuseppe Fedele Covi"

The above section is the testimony of Giuseppe Fedele Covi, in order to answer a Magristrates' questions. This section would then contain primary information because it was stated by a participant in the events in question. 

What form of evidence each piece of information provides would depend on the research question. For example, if the question was "Where was Giuseppe Fedele Covi born?" then he provides direct evidence that he was born in the town of Seio in the Tirolo within his first response. Direct evidence is when the information seems to provide the answer to the research question by itself.

However, if the research question was "Where were his three children born?" then this information provides indirect evidence that his children were born in Trieste. For indirect evidence, you have to combine various pieces of information in order to reach a genealogical conclusion. Therefore, if Giuseppe Fedele had lived in Trieste since 1829 [answer 3], married in Trieste [answer 2], and had three children by 1853 [answer 2] this evidence combines to indirectly prove that his children were born in Trieste. However, I would suggest seeking the children's baptismal records in order to find direct evidence for this conclusion.

"I hereby declare, to the praise and triumph of the genuine truth, that Giuseppe Fedele Covi, a native of Tirolo and son of the living Nicol√≥ Covi, was employed in my shop in his youth, from the end of 1829 until the last months of 1833. During his service to me, he behaved with great willingness and activity and was well known for his honesty. I hereby place my signature and seal in the presence of two witnesses.

Trieste, 23 April 1836
Signature of Giacomo Antonio Depaul


I, Andrea Rabaux, hereby witness the signature of Mister Giacomo Antonio Depaul, which was made by his own hand [written in the hand of Andrea Rabaux, likely in lieu of a signature]. 

Signature of Giacomo Augustinish, also a witness to the above [signature of Giacomo Antonio Depaul]'[1]  

If the research question was "Who was Giuseppe Fedele Covi's father?" then the testimonial section by Giacomo Antonio Depaul provides direct evidence that his father's name was Nicolo Covi. However, because he was likely not a direct participant or eyewitness to the birth of Giuseppe Fedele Covi it provides secondary information.

Could Giacomo Antonio Depaul have personally known Nicolo Covi? Sure, but this document doesn't provide evidence of that either way. Therefore, we have to evaluate what evidence it does provide and assign the appropriate evidentiary strength to each piece of information.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Melanie@holtzresearch.com.


[1] Trieste, Trieste Province, Italy, “Decretti [Decrees], 1853”: number 3508, register marked 1230 and 1/9 1, Decree of Giuseppe Fedele Covi; Archivio Generale del Comune di Trieste [Municipal Archives for the Town of Trieste], Via Punta del Forno, n. 2, 34121 Trieste, Italy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Update from Portale Antenati

Since March, Portale Antenati has made great strides in making more civil records available.

16 March 2015 - added records from the Archivio di Stato di Macerata

9 April 2015 - added records from the Archivio di Stato di Pesaro

24 April 2015 - added records from the Archivio di Stato di Pesaro, Sezione di Urbino

14 May 2015 - added records from the Archivio di Stato di Imperia

19 May 2015 - added records from the Archivio di Stato di Imperia, Sezione di Ventimiglia

Happy hunting!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Decretti [Decrees] - Adding "Meat" to Your Family History Through Unusual Resources

When researching in the city of Trieste, I found a notation on a population register page that there was some form of Decree [Decretto] for the ancestor I was researching.

The register where the decree was found contained 5,000 entries but the extra work to find this decree was well worth it. The decree contained information about this ancestor that is rare to find within any other type of Italian genealogical resource.

Decree of Giuseppe Fedele Covi

"Decree number: 3508
Year: 1853

The Illustrious Magistrate

The undersigned, Giuseppe Fedele Covi, who resides in this city, provided the following answers to the [Magistrate’s] humble questions.


1.     He is a native of [the town of] Seio, District of Trento in the Tirolo [Tyrol].
2.     He married here [in Trieste] and is the father of three children.
3.     He has resided here [in Trieste] since 1829.
4.     He is the owner of grocery store number 967, approved by Magistrate Decree Number 12830 on 27 November 1852.
5.     He has never been convicted [of anything criminal].
6.     He earns sufficient money to maintain his family.


In the hope of attaining the grace of all, he signs [his signature below:]

Trieste, 19 March 1853
Signature of Giuseppe Fedele Covi


I hereby declare, to the praise and triumph of the genuine truth, that Giuseppe Fedele Covi, a native of Tirolo and son of the living Nicoló Covi, was employed in my shop in his youth, from the end of 1829 until the last months of 1833. During his service to me, he behaved with great willingness and activity and was well known for his honesty. I hereby place my signature and seal in the presence of two witnesses.

Trieste, 23 April 1836
Signature of Giacomo Antonio Depaul


I, Andrea Rabaux, hereby witness the signature of Mister Giacomo Antonio Depaul, which was made by his own hand [written in the hand of Andrea Rabaux, likely in lieu of a signature].

Signature of Giacomo Augustinish, also a witness to the above [signature of Giacomo Antonio Depaul]'[1] 


[1] Trieste, Trieste Province, Italy, “Decretti [Decrees], 1853”: number 3508, register marked 1230 and 1/9 1, Decree of Giuseppe Fedele Covi; Archivio Generale del Comune di Trieste [Municipal Archives for the Town of Trieste], Via Punta del Forno, n. 2, 34121 Trieste, Italy.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Course on Italian-American and Irish American Dual Citizenship

Last chance to register for live attendance of the course on dual citizenship I am co- teaching with Melissa Johnson, CG!!! Class begins tomorrow!


“Genealogical Applications of Dual Citizenship: Italian-American and Irish-American”
Melanie D. Holtz, CG, and Melissa A. Johnson, CG
2 May–9 May 2015
Standard $69.99
Plus $99.99
Attaining dual citizenship can be a life-changing experience, and is sought for a variety of reasons. This course will focus on the benefits of dual citizenship by descent; eligibility requirements for Italian-American and Irish-American dual citizenship; and the differences in how to apply for dual citizenship by descent, choice, or marriage. Attendees will also learn about the laws surrounding dual citizenship, where these laws can be found, and how the Hague Convention affected the legalization of documents around the world.
If you are of Italian-American or Irish-American descent and have ever considered applying for dual citizenship, then this course is for you. You will learn everything you need to know in order to prepare a successful application. Let’s learn how to regain the citizenship of your ancestors!
Professional genealogists wishing to learn how to help people prepare for dual citizenship can also benefit greatly from this course. The focus on dual citizenship with both Italy and Ireland will give you a solid overview of this specialty within professional genealogy.
Melanie headshotMelanie D. Holtz, CG, is a board-certified genealogist, writer, and lecturer. She operates an international business that specializes in Italian genealogical research, Italian-American dual citizenship, and Italian-American heirship cases. She maintains offices in both the U.S. and Italy. She’s authored courses on Italian genealogy for the National Institute of Genealogical Studies and FamilyTree University and will coordinate a course on Italian research in 2016 at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.
Melanie is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and the current Chair of APG’s Professional Development Committee, where she’s advocated for mentorship and expanded educational offerings within the organization. She writes about Italian genealogy, resources, and genealogical standards on her blog, Finding Our Italian Roots (http://italiangenealogyroots.blogspot.com). To learn more about Melanie please visit her website at www.holtzresearch.com.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMelissa A. Johnson, CG, is a board-certified genealogist, writer, and editor. She specializes in Italian-American and Irish-American dual citizenship, with a focus on New Jersey and New York City ancestral families. In addition to dual citizenship services, Melissa’s research specialties include New Jersey and New York City from the colonial period to the present, British families in the U.S. and abroad, and genealogical writing, editing, and publishing.
Melissa is the Reviews Editor for the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly(APGQ). She is a Trustee of both the Genealogical Society of New Jersey and the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History. She lectures on Irish and Italian dual citizenship throughout the New York and New Jersey area, and is the course coordinator for Elements of Genealogical Writing, Editing, and Publishing, to be held at the 2015 British Institute. For more information about Melissa, visit her website at www.johnsongenealogyservices.com.
Course Schedule (all times U. S. Eastern)
2 May 2015
  • 11:00am “Understanding Dual Citizenship by Descent: Benefits, Eligibility, and the Law”
  • 1:00pm “Preparing Applications for Irish-American Dual Citizenship”
9 May 2015
  • 11:00am “Preparing Applications for Italian-American Dual Citizenship”
  • 1:00pm “Case Studies in Dual Citizenship: Italian-American and Irish-American”

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Understanding the Records

The civil birth record abstracted below was very typical for this time period and offered few surprises. It was on a pre-printed form with the appropriate information filled in. 

The father’s age was given but not the mother’s. They do not outright state this family lived in a hamlet, as often seen when this is the case. However, it is intimated when they give a street name and not a house number. Homes in a hamlet were often not numbered.

 Birth Record of Santo Tricarico

"Number Sixty-four
Santo Tricarico

Santo’s birth was reported to the town hall in San Martino di Finita on 16 October 1886 at 10:00 a.m. Reporting his birth was his father, Pietro Tricarico. Pietro was twenty-six years old [born about 1860], a farm laborer, and resident of San Martino.

He declared that the male child he was presenting was born on the 13th of the current month in his home on Via Santa Maria [house number blank]. The child’s mother was Rosaria Corno, his legitimate wife, with whom he resided. Rosaria was noted to be a seamstress.

The child was given the name Santo. The witnesses to the presentation and declaration were: Pietro Lombardo, age sixty, and an onion seller as well as Domenico Pazzia, age sixty, and a farm laborer. Both of the witnesses resided in this town.

Pietro Tricarico was literate and signed at the bottom of the record. Both of the witnesses were illiterate."[1]





[1] San Martino di Finita, Cosenza Province, Italy, “Registro di Atti di Nascita [Register of Acts of Birth], 1886”: record 64, birth record of Santo Tricarico; FamilySearch microfilm #1,640,602.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Understanding Peculiarities Within the Records

The longer you research your Italian ancestors, the more chances you have to see peculiarities or differences within the records. Let's look at the birth record of Maria Carolina Perri.

Birth Record of Maria Carolina Perri

            "Maria Carolina’s birth was reported to the Nicastro town hall on 14 October 1835 at 4:00 p.m. by her father Antonio Perri. Antonio was the son of the deceased Giuseppe [Perri], a farm laborer, and a resident on Strada Calia.

            He declared that the female child he was presenting was born to his wife, Giovanna Vescio, that same day at 9:00 a.m. Giovanna was forty years old [born about 1795], resided with her husband, and was also a farm laborer.

            The child was given the names Maria Carolina. The witnesses to the presentation and declaration were: Saverio di Alessio, age thirty-eight, a farm laborer, and resident of Nicastro as well as Francesco Antonio Angello, age forty-eight, a servant and resident of Nicastro.  Neither the declarant nor the witnesses were literate.

[The section to record her baptismal information on the right-hand side was left blank.]"[1]

The following record in this register also did not contain any baptismal information.  Perhaps the priest at that time was not good at returning the notice of baptisms. The civil official would have given the priest two copies of a notice of birth, which included a section in which to record when the child was baptized.  The priest would then fill in the appropriate information and return one copy to the town hall.

The street this family lived on was unclear in the extracted record found in Maria Carolina’s marriage supplements. It is more clearly stated in this document. Seeking the original copy of a document is always wise, as there are more chances for transcription error within any extracted copy.





[1] Nicastro, Catanzaro Province, Italy, “Registri di Nati [Registers of Birth], 1835”: record number 271, p. 272, birth record of Maria Carolina Perri; FamilySearch microfilm #1,962,182.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Evolution of Occupational Terms - Forese


Often we encounter occupational terms within the Italian records which are no longer in use. One such term is a "forese". 



This occupational designation is a derivative of the designation "forestiero" [in Latin: foris] and means a person working and sometimes living in the countryside surrounding a town, usually a farmer or someone in the forestry trade in more mountainous terrains. This designation is often used interchangeably with the various terms for a farmer. 

The picture above shows a typical farmer's home in northern Italy. Note the stone enclosure on the side of the house for containing the animals at night.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Picture Wednesday - Termini Imerese, Palermo Province, Italy



Update from Portale Antenati



On 25 February 2015, Portale Antenati announced that images from the Archivio di Stato di Cremona  have been uploaded to the website.

Then today, 11 March 2015, they announced additions to the records of the Grosseto, L'Aquila, Caltanissetta, and Ragusa provinces.

Happy Hunting!