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Big changes at www.familysearch.org

Lately I have been mentioning the same web site in a number of columns on diverse subjects. “What is this ‘familysearch’ thing you keep talking about?” Some people confuse this with Ancestry.com, which is advertised on TV. Familysearch is something quite different.

The web site is www.familysearch.org and it is owned and operated by the Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the formal name). They are trying to gather as much genealogical data from around the world in order for their church members to discover their ancestors. However, they allow anyone to use their resources and data. I am not a member of their church, and in all the years I have used their facilities, they have never once tried to convert me to their faith. This is strict policy of theirs, and I can speak from experience that they stick to it. So you don’t have to worry that they are going to hand you literature or anything like that.

So what is the web site all about? Well, the Mormons have microfilmed original records of genealogical value around the world for decades. These microfilms are available only through local family history centers. Since the centers are staffed by volunteers, the available hours are quite limited. A few years ago they started converting the old microfilms to digital format, and started indexing these records so they can be viewed and searched on-line. This process will take many years to complete. Many films have not been digitized yet, and not every film that is digitized on-line is indexed yet.

Please keep in mind that everything on the site is 100% free! The site is supported by the Mormon church so they do not charge anyone for it’s use.

New films are added to the site daily, so by the time you read this, there will be more data on the site. (This is a good thing!) But the major collections helpful to Chicago Italians are:

´ Chicago Catholic records 1833-1915 — These have not been indexed yet, so they cannot be searched by name. However, you can select the parish and look at baptisms, marriages, and other sacramental records page by page from your home, rather than using a family history center.

´ Cook County birth certificates 1878-1922 — These are the actual birth certificates, the same ones you might order from Cook County. These are free!

´ Cook County birth register (1871-1915) — This is a line-by-line list of Chicago births, with less detail than the birth certificates

´ Cook County death certificates (1878-1922)

´ Cook County marriages (1871-1920) — These are the licenses, and the format is essentially the same from 1871 until the 1950s.

´ Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths (1916-1947) — These are not indexed yet, but they show the microfilm number and the sequential image number so you can find it easily on the microfilm. This is a statewide death index, not just Cook County.

´ Illinois Northern District Naturalizations (1840-1950) — These are the index cards for everyone who because a U.S. citizen in the northern part of Illinois. (See my February column for more information.)

There are birth, marriage and death indexes for many other US States for various years.

There is not a lot of data for Italy on the site, but eventually, all of the microfilmed records for Italy will be available and indexed on this web site. As of press time, these records are available but not indexed. (There is no guarantee how complete they are.)

Italy, Agrigento, Agrigento, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1910
Italy, Biella, Borriana, Catholic Church Records, 1740-1938
Italy, Bologna, Bologna, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1941
Italy, Caltanissetta, Caltanissetta, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1910
Italy, Caserta, Gricignano d’Aversa, Civil Registration (Comune), 1809-1929
Italy, Caserta, Sant’Arpino, Civil Registration (Comune), 1876-1980
Italy, Catania, Arcidiocesi di Catania, Catholic Church Records, 1515-1941
Italy, Catania, Caltagirone, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1861-1941
Italy, Catania, Catania, Civil Registration (Comune), 1820-1905
Italy, Catania, Diocesi di Acireale, Catholic Church Records, 1560-1941
Italy, Catanzaro, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1865
Italy, Cuneo, Alba, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1910
Italy, Cuneo, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1795-1915
Italy, Genova, Chiavari, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1941
Italy, L’Aquila, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1865
Italy, Mantova, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1496-1900
Italy, Messina, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1820-1865
Italy, Messina, Messina, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1939
Italy, Messina, Patti, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1823-1941
Italy, Napoli, Acerra, Civil Registration (Comune), 1809-1929
Italy, Napoli, Barano d’Ischia, Civil Registration (Comune), 1809-1929
Italy, Napoli, Castellammare di Stabia, Civil Registration (Comune), 1809-1936
Italy, Napoli, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1865
Italy, Napoli, Forio, Civil Registration (Comune), 1809-1915
Italy, Napoli, Ischia, Civil Registration (Comune), 1809-1929
Italy, Napoli, Lacco Ameno, Civil Registration (Comune), 1813-1910
Italy, Napoli, Monte di Procida, Civil Registration (Comune), 1817-1929
Italy, Napoli, Mugnano, Civil Registration (Comune), 1810-1929
Italy, Napoli, Serrara Fontana, Civil Registration (Comune), 1809-1929
Italy, Napoli, Torre Annunziata, Civil Registration (Comune), 1809-1899
Italy, Napoli, Torre Annunziata, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1900-1911
Italy, Nuoro, Nuoro, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1915
Italy, Oristano, Oristano, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1911-1940
Italy, Padova, Padova, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1871-1929
Italy, Palermo, Termini Imerese, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1862-1910
Italy, Pescara, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1866-1942
Italy, Pistoia, Pistoia, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1929
Italy, Potenza, Lagonegro, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1910
Italy, Ravenna, Ravenna, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1929
Italy, Rovigo, Rovigo, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1871-1910
Italy, Salerno, Padula, Civil Registration (Comune), 1809-1940
Italy, Salerno, Vallo della Lucania, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1929
Italy, Teramo, Teramo, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1940
Italy, Torino, Torino, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1866-1899
Italy, Toscana, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1745-1900
Italy, Treviso, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1806-1815
Italy, Treviso, Treviso, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1871-1941
Italy, Trieste, Trieste, Civil Registration (Tribunale), 1924-1939

To get to the catalog to see what’s new, go to www. familysearch.org. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click on the part of the world you need. The catalog entries will appear on the right. Click on one of them and happy hunting!

If you have any questions, send me an e-mail at italianroots@comcast.net and please put “Fra Noi” in the subject line. Have fun!

About Dan Niemiec

Dan Niemiec has been the genealogy columnist for Fra Noi since 2004. For the past 25 years, he has researched his genealogy back 17 generations, plus tracing descendants of his ancestors, yielding 74,000 relatives. His major focus is on civil and church records in Italy, Chicago vital records, Chicago Catholic records and most major genealogy web sites. He has given dozens of presentations to many local and some national genealogy societies on topics such as cemetery research, Catholic records, Italian records, Ellis Island and newspaper research, among others.