Finding Roots

Isabel Bearman Bucher and Nonna Angela’s people, The GianiFamily of Gallarate, Italy. 

LOOKING FOR ROOTS in all the Right Places

Italian Name Search:

Italian Historical ArchivesArchivio Storico (Some web addresses give you the option to TRANSLATE)

USA Census Search:

Genetic Genealogy

Family Health History:

Ellis Island Records:


  • Geneaology Roots - Personal
  • Geneaology Roots - The Tech Talk

  • How-To Start

    At the computer, type the name of the city in Italy OR whatever country and city  you remember your family speaking about.  I typed in Arsago Seprio (Nonno’s birthplace) and Gallarate (Nonna’s birthplace) and got lots of starts.  Then, find the city hall of that town and go from there.  If it’s small, then do a map search and get to the largest town near it. There will be an  email address.  They usually have someone who can speak enough English.  If you get an answer back in another language, try this great program - it’s free: Simply cut and paste the text of your email, choose from which language to translate into English - and voom!  It’s not perfect, but you’ll be able to get the gist of it.

    . If you need to get emails or communications translated, and live near a big city with a university, contact the languages department and see if anyone there can help you in Italian, or whatever language you need.  There’s always a student who would like to make a few extra bucks doing translations.  German American clubs, Polish, Irish, can usually be located through your Chamber of Commerce.

    .  If your family owned historic property in Italy, like a monastery, or home, type in  ARCHIVI STORICI and put in the name of the city of your roots.  Any big city has historical library archives which contain documents, buyers and sellers of properties.  It’s worth a shot, even if it’s in the dark.

    . Distribution of Italian family names: This is a fun site!  I found Gianis and DeBernardis all clumped together up north.

    .  Family records: ask for certificates of marriage/death/birth in the town hall of the largest town near your roots.  Each certificate costs $20,000 - $40,000 lira - around $10 - $30  American dollars.  Sometimes their names alone can trace back into the centuries. 

    This is a sample letter in Italian when you’re writing about finding your roots:
    La sottoscritta ________(your name), chiede de potere recevere l’estrattodi nascita e di matrimonio do (name of your grandmother, grandfather etc.) Nata a (the town) il (date of birth of your family member).
    Inviatemi per piacere i certificati richiesti, che me servono come ricerca genealogica della mia famiglia, al seguente indirizzo: (give them your address here)

    .  Locate a church in the town.  They keep marriage and death records.  Call or email the  the priest, and make a donation. Also include $20 - 25 American dollars so they will send you the certificates which may  show much info.

    Good luck!  It’s hard work, but worth it!

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