Using Facebook for Genealogy

There are many Facebook pages that focus on Italian Genealogy and there are lots of people helping out with translations and giving guidance on where to find the records.

Antenati – il portale del SAN is the Facebook page for antenati and they try to keep us updated with their uploading progress.  Unfortunately the text is in Italian as you might expect.

FamilySearch is the Facebook page for Family Search focuses on the Conferences and the various ‘extra’ services they offer.

A search for ‘Italian Genealogy’ on Facebook will bring up a good selection of sites but you might want to add the name of the Comune, or region or Province to get a more specific result.  Some of the groups are private others are public.  Some focus on help with Italian genealogy in general with lots of experts helping out with suggestions and interpretation.  You will find localized groups focusing on a single town or area.  DNA focused groups, heritage and surnames. The list seems endless.

Then there are groups that focus on a particular surname or family these groups are usually private but not always.

Help is always at hand with lots of the members offering their experiences.

Italian genealogy is so much easier than say, English as each record refers you to the previous one, assuming you can understand the language of course.  If you can get the first record, there shouldn’t be any problems following the trail.  It’s getting that first record that often is the difficult one.  Sometimes we can jump over the stubborn one and continue the search but we keep coming back to that one record that eludes us.

It’s not really a brick wall just an annoying gap in our documentation.  Your Facebook friends will have lots of suggestions but often a careful study of the records you already have will often suggest a solution.  Death dates and records are the most common gaps but while many of you obsess over this lack of information you need to consider how important it is and how it affects your research.

I read also of the surprise by posters of the number of errors made on civil records.  It is true, errors were made, but they were usually corrected by an official and this would be noted in the margin.  I have not noted many ‘true errors’.  Wrong ages are not errors on civil records where, except for the marriage record, proof did not have to be produced.  For the registration of a birth or death a guess or estimate was made of the age or declared incorrectly by the person themselves.  Knowing your age isn’t important when you are illiterate.  First names can be recorded differently on birth and death records if the administrative name (the one on the official birth record) was different from the one they used on a daily basis, again because no proof was required.  The marriage record is the only one for which documentation of the information was required. Birth certificates had to be produced and death records for deceased parents and even grandparents if the parents were deceased.   Death records are the worst as they are often declared by someone other than a family member, the age is often estimated, and the surname of the wife often not known or incorrect and the names of the parents of someone of advanced age would be in question.

You need to become a ‘genealogy’ detective to solve some of these questions.  Check out next week’s blog post to learn about solving problems with errors.



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