In my first dual citizenship post, I talked about all of the records that I requested from Italy. I want to talk a bit more in depth about the records from Italy/Sicily that I requested. Why did I request so many? First, I wanted to corroborate names, dates and locations that I already had, but wasn't 100% convinced on. Second, I had an "in" at the commune and didn't want to miss an opportunity to get all of the records that I might ever need in a quick turnaround time.
Any other reasons? Funny you should ask. The full family last name in Italy is "Collurafici," but by the time it got to me it was simply Collora. Tricky for two reasons: it was shortened and then the spelling was changed.
By reviewing the indexes online, I discovered that my great-grandfather and his first wife used the name Collura in their daughter's birth records. Fantastic! Proof that he was using a shortened version before he came to America (I believe this was actually in anticipation of their voyage, as they left only a few months later). Having the daughter's birth record is a great supporting piece of evidence.
But, the commune's records also come with another great feature: a stamp on the back with additional information about the person. For instance, my great-grandfather's birth certificate has a stamp on the back with marriage information about his first wife (including her date of death) and his second marriage, to my great-grandmother. This is important, because I believe it helps weave together the records as the name changes slightly over the years.
- Family is extremely important in Italy. You will find that in many areas, while buildings may be crumbling, church and communal records are kept not only in tact, but quite well.
- Particularly for original immigrants to America, Italian communes still kept in touch. Even though my great-grandfather's second marriage took place in Philadelphia, he notified his commune in Italy and they made note in their records. This is huge, especially considering my great-grandmother's name is spelled three different ways (none of them accurate) on the Philadelphia marriage certificate.