Going backwards with the “Morti”

If you’ve ever looked at the civil registers from Italy, which most towns have available on microfilm from 1809-1910, you’ve come across “Nati” (Births), “Matrimonii” (Marriages), and “Morti” (Deaths). All of these records are unique, but I’ve found Morti to be among the most interesting. Here’s a little primer on what can be found on these records, and how to use this information.

Over the years the style of the record has changed a little bit, but the information has stayed almost exactly the same. Here’s a death record from Civitaquana for my 6th-great-grandmother:


What’s great about these records, first and foremost, is finding the parents of the deceased.  Agnese Tozzi was the daughter of  “fu Giuseppe” and “fu Teresa di Francesco”. (“Fu” just means deceased.)

Because there were often multiple people with the exact same name, it is hard to be sure that the deceased is actually your relative. Most death records (but definitely not all) include the spouse of the deceased which is crucial for identifying the person. Agnese was the widow of “fu Francesco Lavalle”.  I had known that Francesco Lavalle and Agnese Tozzi were the parents of my 5th-great-grandmother, so this was the right person (also, Tozzi is a very uncommon name in Civitaquana).

Directly below her name on this record is her age at the time of death. Ages in the civil records are not always 100% accurate, but here it says she was 83 when she died.

The date of death, “nel giorno quattordici del mese di Maggio”, or 14 May appears right before the name of the deceased. The year is the same year on the top line,  “mille ottocento quaranta” or 1840. Knowing that she was 83 and died in 1840, I can say she was born about 1767.

Also helpful, but again, not always entirely accurate, is the place of birth. Here it reads “nata in questo Comune”, which means she was born in Civitaquana, but for someone who was born outside of the town it might say “nata in Pianella” or another nearby town. You might also find abbreviated town names: “nata in Loreto” for Loreto Aprutino or “Villa San Giovanni” for the frazione of the comune Rosciano.

Occasionally you can get a piece of info from the declarants who are presenting the deceased. These are the two names that follow “sono comparsi”. It might say “Angelo Cerasa, figlio del defunto, 28”, which gives you the name and age of a son.

All of these prove tremendously helpful in tracing your ancestry further back. I’ve made many years’ of “morti” as well as the other records available on this blog, and many more to come, so I hope I may have helped you with this never-ending quest!

As always, feel free to e-mail me at anthony.sacco13@gmail.com if you need help with research in Nocciano or Civitaquana, or have any questions on using the Italian civil records.

– Anthony

2 thoughts on “Going backwards with the “Morti””

  1. I love seeing your progress, I’ve seen many names that are possible descendants and my cousins who migrated to Australia in the 70’s are fascinated by the ever growing family tree! Your help is amazing, I’m looking forward to doing the same one day, if I ever get it italy!

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