Continuing to research our ancestors and their family members through religious records, we will often discover unique types of records created within the church records for that region or country. Becoming familiar with these records will make it easier to understand the information we discover within them.
The course Italian: Catholic Church Records-Part 2, begins with the State of the Souls Records and what they cover in Parish records. Let’s explore these Italian church records.
State of the Souls Records in Genealogy
State of the Souls records can be tremendously helpful in extending a family’s ancestry in those areas of Italy that did not keep civil registration between the years 1816-1865, and in the centuries prior to civil registration. What information they recorded varied depending on the time period, education level or age of the priest, and the location in which it was recorded.
The records may be written in the Latin, Italian, and French languages, or in combination with regional dialects. However, they were predominantly written in Italian and Latin. Some records contained two or more languages/dialects within the same register or even on the same record. One such set of parish records had French, Latin, and Italian all mixed together in nearly every record. This made for a confusing translation process.
The status animarum were created during annual pastoral visits to each household. In large cities or when the priest was elderly, one entry may have been made that he then updated each Easter over a series of years. Occupations, titles, and tax notations can provide evidence of an ancestor’s social status within the community.
The status animarum were progressive records, meaning that they were not created at one time, but rather, over a series of years. Additionally, multiple priests could have made entries to a single status animarum record. This can create multiple chances for transcription error. Age, attention to detail, the size of the parish, and a variety of other factors can play a part in the accuracy of the information in these records. Despite this, these documents are thought to hold strong evidence on an Italian family.
Are you researching your Italian Catholic ancestors? Learn more about researching your Italian ancestors in the course Italian: Catholic Church Records-Part 2 through their records. Check the Course Calendar for the next time this course will be offered.
Visit our website for a complete list of online courses offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Check our Course Calendar here.
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