What comes to mind when someone mentions Italy to you? Food? Sunshine? Art? Music? Gondolas? Speaking of gondolas, for the past eight years the Archivio di Stato (provincial archive) of Venice has been laboriously extracting information from their military records, specifically the draft records.
One of the only sources in Italy that will help determine an exact place of origin is military records. Many people know that great-grandpa was from Palermo, or Roma, or Venezia, but what they may not know is that great-grandpa could have been referring to the province, not the city. For Italian research to be successful, one must know the exact town wherein an ancestor was born. The province of Venice has a total of 44 towns within its borders and more than 80 smaller villages–it would take ages to find someone!
With this understanding, the Archivio di Stato began to extract every possible piece of information from each draft record to facilitate researchers and do away with the necessity of writing to the archive. Their goal was to be able to release a good amount of information by the time Italy began its celebration of 150 years of unification–and they did! On March 16 of 2011, they released their work up to that point.
Here is the essential information about these records:
- Young men drafted who were born in the years 1871-1875 and 1879-1881 (a total of 28,631 names).
- The website will be updated regularly. In fact, they are now working on draftees born 1865-1870, 1876-1878, 1882-1890.
- Future plans include birth years from 1848-1846 and 1891-1900.
- The ultimate goal is to include all young men from the province of Venice born between 1848, when the first class was called into the draft for the Kingdom of Italy in Veneto region, and 1900.
- Name and surname of the young man and his parents
- Date and place of birth of the inductee
- Place of residence
- Profession of the inductee and that of his father
- Applications of exemption from service
- Emigration status
The records are available on the Archivio di Stato’s website.
TIPS for using the website:
- The site is in Italian.
- On the left is a list of links. If you choose ‘navigazione’ you will be able to search surnames alphabetically.
- If you choose ‘ricerca’ you are allowed to search on any field. If all you know is that great-grandpa was named Luigi and was a gondolier, you can search that information. (By the way, at this time there were only two gondoliers named Luigi who were drafted.)
For more information on Italian military records, see the Italy Military Records article in the FamilySearch Research Wiki.
Good luck researching your Venetian ancestors.