A census is a count and description of the population. Various governments of Italy and some ecclesiastical officials have taken censuses at different times, mostly for taxation purposes.
Italian census records do not provide as much information as census records of other countries. Church records and civil registration records are usually better sources for Italy. Census records, however, can be valuable because they list much of the population, and they can provide certain information if other records are incomplete or missing.
A record called the stato delle anime is similar to a census. See the "Church Records" section of this outline for more information.
Understanding the Census
The first census of Italy was taken in 1871. Since then, a census has been taken every 10 years.
You will generally find more complete family information in censuses taken from 1911 to the present. The censuses contain the following information:
- 1871–1901. These censuses are of limited use and are not uniform in content. In most regions, the census named only the head of household, his occupation, and the number of persons in the house.
- 1911 and later. These censuses list the names, ages, occupations, relationships to the head of the household, and birthplaces of each member of a household.
Use census information with caution, however, since the information may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or a neighbor. Some information may have been incorrect or deliberately falsified.
Availability of Census Records
Census records up to 1991 are held in the state archive of each province. Census records from 1911 or 1921 to 1991 are also usually found in each comune’s anagrafe (register’s office). The availability to the public differs from comune to comune.
The Family History Library has the census records of one Italian province on microfilm. You can find it by looking in the Locality Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
ITALY, PARMA- CENSUS