Tracing your own Italian genealogy is a fascinating and rewarding project that will put you in touch with your heritage and reconnect you with family and friends. If your ancestors were among the more than 4 million Italian immigrants who relocated to the United States between 1880 and 1930 you can trace their journey. Millions of Americans are descended from these brave and hopeful Italian families, and researching your Italian ancestry may reveal new insights and opportunities. The process of tracing your family tree starts with interviewing relatives, researching passenger lists, reviewing census information, and tracking down things like birth, baptism, marriage, and burial records. 1. Interview Living Relatives One of the best ways to get started is to talk to your relatives and family members to find out all they know about your family history. Baptism records, journals, picture albums, and other family documents can help you spark memories and trace your family tree. Specific information to gather from your family connections includes: The last names, including maiden names, of grandparents, great grandparents or other relatives that immigrated from Italy If names changed during immigration, ask about the original form of the name The villages or region of Italy your family originated from The marriage, birth and death dates of your ancestors and close relatives The dates of immigration or travel between Italy and the United States Any other family documentation or family history research you can gather 2. Gather Ancestral & Naturalization Information from the US The first step in tracing your Italian ancestry is to locate their birth certificates. If you’re unable to locate these documents, you’ll need to obtain a certificate of baptism as well as marriage records and death certificates. To find this information, you can look through the American Community Survey (ACS) records maintained by the US Census Bureau. Here you’ll find a host of data about your ancestors, including dates and places of birth, along with residence information. You can also use an online service that specializes in Italian genealogy research. As a last resort, you could hire a genealogist. Once you’ve researched your Italian ancestry through these records, the next step is to obtain naturalization records. You can find naturalization records at your regional National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). In cases where your ancestors were never naturalized, did not give up their citizenship, or had children before they became a naturalized citizen of the US, your right to dual citizenship might still be intact. 3. Search Passenger Lists and Manifests Now you have as much information as you can gather locally, and you may wonder how to find your Italian ancestors working backwards from there. The next step in tracing your Italian genealogy is to find out how and when they arrived in the United States. Passenger lists can be found online, and you should search all the names you have identified. Italian women often traveled under their maiden names, even if their children are listed with their father’s surname. These lists contain information about whether passengers have traveled to the United States before, and sometimes if they plan to return and their village of residence. All of this information will help you in finding Italian birth records and other vital civil records. 4. Locate Historical Italian Records Once you have basic and naturalization information about your ancestry, you’ll want to request specific information from the vital records office in Italy. Finding Italian birth records and other state vital records will depend on accurately identifying where those life events took place, because these records are kept at the local township or commune level. You can contact the Ufficio dello Stato Civile, which is the state vital records office, the Italian State Archive for military records and census information, or local parishes for Italian Catholic records. If you will be pursuing dual citizenship based on your Italian heritage, the Italian consulate requires all of these records in Formato Internazionale, also known as long form. 5. Find Out If You Qualify for Dual Italian Citizenship One reason people embark on genealogical research is to find out if they might qualify to become a dual citizen. Italian heritage research will help you identify all of your ancestors, answer these important questions, and prepare your application for citizenship. Italian American Citizenship Assistance Italian culture is centered around family, and researching your ancestry can help you explore your heritage and experience all that Italy has to offer. If you qualify to become a dual citizen, you could live or work in Italy as long as you wish, and enjoy affordable health care and education benefits for yourself and your children. In order to make the dual citizenship process as smooth and quick as possible, you may want to seek help from the Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program. We offer a free consultation to see if you might qualify. We’ll also provide you a project plan with a schedule, timelines, milestones, and a cost analysis. Call our team today at (305) 812-5512 to get started.