Unfortunately, I have yet to read of a single story in the many message boards that I follow of a person going back to a GGF (dual citizenship lingo for great-grandfather) and not having any problems with their records.
What are some common problems?
- Misspelling of names
- Random changes in how names are spelled
- Shortening of names
- The use of nicknames
I experienced all of these things. Thankfully, only one record is giving us any cause for concern: my grandfather's birth certificate. The nickname he went by all of his life (and what we always assumed was his actual first name) isn't even on his birth certificate.
This could have been a total catastrophe. The saving grace? Every other single record in his life (census records, military records, marriage and death certificates) all match the nickname. Having this much support behind a nickname is -- knock on wood -- making it fairly easy to request an amendment to his birth certificate. We are currently in the process of working with a lawyer to file all of the necessary papers to get the court order (yes, a court-freakin-order) to approve the change.
A lot of work? Absolutely. But, also completely necessary. If there is one thing you will read over and over again in the message boards it's this: Italians, whether at consulates or in Italy itself, are picky as you-know-what when it comes to names matching. I can't blame them...bestowing citizenship on people is a big deal.
- Factor "fixing mistakes" time into your plan. I didn't and was totally bummed that we had to postpone our move a few months to get this fixed.
- Carefully review all records for mistakes.
- If you have the extra money, spring for certified census records, military records and other supporting documents. You may not need them, but if you do, you'll already have the process moving (or have the documents in hand) to get the vital records amended.
- Similar to #3, abide by the age-old adage: hope for the best, plan for the worst.