How to use civil birth records

Once in a while I like to do a post on how to just translate and transcribe the records that I’m constantly using. Especially if you don’t know Italian, it can be very tricky to figure out what information on the record you’re actually looking for.

For the most part all the civil birth records follow the same structure, but have different forms.  For years 1820-1865 (at least in Pescara), the birth record looked like this. On the Italian National Archives website this is the “Stato civile della restaurazione”. I’m not familiar with the political history of Italy, so I don’t know the context of why the records changed. For years 1866-1874, the first decade of “Stato civile italiano”, all the civil records were entirely written out, not filled in a form, and look like this. For years 1875 on, the birth records are a form, but slightly different from the earlier ones, and with no baptism information.

Here’s a detailed example, for Luigi Pelusi. His mother is actually from Nocciano, so this record, though from Rosciano, is of interest to me.

1) Just going from top to bottom, we first see the number of the birth record in the book for that year. This record is “Numero d’ordine settantatre” or #73.

2) The very beginning of the text gives the date and time the record was filed (“l’anno mille ottocento quarantasei il di ventidue del mese di Novembre alle ore sedici”) = 22 Novembre 1846, at 16:00.

3) Next the name of the official who filed the record: “Noi Antonio de Fabritiis Sindaco”. It says “Noi” which is the first person plural “we” but I believe this occurs because he is filing it as a representative of the town.

4) Then town information: “Uffiziale dello Stato Civile del Comune di Rosciano Distretto di Citta Sant’Angelo Provincia di Teramo” – until the 20th century, many towns that are now part of the province of Pescara were then located in Teramo. The town of interest here is Rosciano.

5) Parental information: “è comparso il Sigr. Nicola Pelusi di anni trenta di professione contadino domiciliato in San Giovanni….ed ha dichiarato che lo stesso è nato da Angela Rosa Napoleone sua moglie legittima di anni ventisei di professione contadina domiciliata in San Giovanni, e da esso dichiarante di anni trenta di professione contadino domiciliato in San Giovanni…”

Let’s break this down. Any time a record says “è comparso” it is telling you who is reporting the event to the town official, or the declarant (“dichiarante”). It then tells you the name of the mother, with her age and occupation, and the father, with his age and occupation. If the father is also the declarant, it will say “esso dichiarante”. This is usually the case in 95% of birth records, so you have to go back up to the declarant to see the father’s name. Here the declarant and father is Nicola Pelusi, age 30, contadino; the mother, his legitimate wife (“sua legittima moglie”), is Angela Rosa Napoleone, age 26, contadina. Also, Villa San Giovanni is a frazione in Rosciano, and that’s where the family lived.

6) Birth date: “…nel giorno ventuno del mese di Novembre ad ore venti anno mille ottocento quarantasei nella casa di sua propria abitazione” – he was born on 21 Novembre 1846 at 20:00 in his house. Make sure you do not put the filing date down as the birth date. Often, the filing date is the day AFTER the actual birth date, as is the case here.

7)Baptism date: You kind of have to check a few places for the baptism date. Here it’s nice and easy, on the right side you can see “il Sagramento del battesimo è stato amministrato a Luigi Pelusi nel giorno ventidue del mese” – 22 Novembre 1846. It’s not always that simple. Sometimes it’ll say “suddetto giorno”, so you’ll have to look up and see what dates are written up there. The baptism occurred at the town parish of Rosciano (we know this parish to be Chiesa di S. Giovanni Battista).

Name: “Lo stesso ha inoltre dichiarato di dare al bambino il nome di Luigi” – the child’s name is Luigi Pelusi.

8) Witnesses: For every civil record, two individuals need to attest to the occurrence of the event. “La presentazione, e dichiarazione anzidetta si è fatta alla presenza di Sabatino Grande di anni cinquanta di professione contadino regnicolo, domiciliato in San Giovanni e di Giuseppe di Virgilio di anni cinquanta contadino regnicolo, domiciliato in San Giovanni”. The two witnesses here are Sabatino Grande, age 50, contadino; and Giuseppe di Virgilio (maybe a cousin of mine??), age 50, contadino. Both lived in San Giovanni.

The final transcription looks like this:

Rosciano #73 Filed 22 Novembre 1846
Name: Luigi Pelusi
Birth: 21 Novembre 1846, ad ore venti
Baptism: 22 Novembre 1846
Father: Nicola Pelusi, 30, contadino
Mother: Angela Rosa Napoleone, 26, contadina, sua moglie legittima
Witness: Sabatino Grande, 50, contadino
Witness: Giuseppe di Virgilio, 50, contadino
Sindaco: Giuseppe di Virgilio

Here’s an example of a fully handwritten, non-form birth record from 1869 in Cugnoli:

Cugnoli #36 Filed 14 Giugno 1869
Name: Mariantonia Manzoli
Birth: 13 Giugno 1869, alle ore ventiquattro
Father: Giovannantonio Manzoli, del fu Francesco, 30, contadino
Mother: Anna Felice Silvestri, del vivente Giovanni, 29, contadina
Witness: Giuseppe di Gregorio, del fu Donato, 60, contadino
Witness: Giovanni Cetriulli, del vivo Luigi, 46, contadino
Sindaco: Fedele Mascioli

Here’s an example of a post-1875 record for a Trabucco descendant in Catignano:

Catignano #37 Filed 1 Maggio 1883
Name: Alfonso d’Agresta
Birth: 29 Aprile 1883, alle ore po meridiane sette e minuti dieci
Father: Vincenzo d’Agresta, 35, contadino
Mother: Carolina di Profio, sua moglie, contadina
Witness: Raffaele de Iuliis, 27, possidente
Witness: Luigi Tassone, 29, possidente
Sindaco: Agostino de Carolis, Segretario
Il controscritto addì 5 Marzo 1955 è deceduto in Catignano atto n.5. Pescara, li 12 Dicembre 1959.

Sometimes the town official might go back to old birth records and note a marriage or death. In this record from Catignano, they indicate that Alfonso d’Agresta died in 1955 in Catignano. They also put the stamp for a marriage but never actually filled it out, so we don’t know what happened there.

Hope this was informative!

– Anthony

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