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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

June 24, 1999
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Finding Italian Ancestry

Q: How would I get info from Italy about my grandparents? I have worked up a family tree with over 400 descendants in the USA. I have names of ancestors that came to the US but would like some dates. -- Cat

A: When you discover that your ancestors came from another country, it is important that you do not over look valuable records generated in the US. These records are very likely to supply you with important information about where your family came from in Italy.

There are certain records that you will want to investigate to help determine exactly when your grandparents came to the United States. Those records include:

  • Census records
  • Obituaries
  • Naturalization records
  • Passenger lists

From these records you will not only discover when your grand parents arrived, but you are also likely to learn where in Italy your grand parents came from. Italian civil records are found on the commune level. This is the equivalent to a town level in the United States. Italian civil divisions are as follows:

  • Regions (this is similar to a US state)
  • Provinces (this is similar to a US county)
  • Communes (this is similar to a US town)
  • Frazioni (this is similar to a US village)

Very often the records that you discover will clue you in to the franzione (the village). The records you need though cannot be found at this level, so you will need to check a gazetteer to see if you have the village or the town. Once you have the town, you can then turn your attention to your local Family History Center to see if the Family History Library has microfilmed the civil registration records for your town. If not, you will need to contact the town by postal mail.

Copies from the Census

Q: I know the LDS folks used to send you copies of microfilmed census records for a reasonable price. Do they still do this or does someone else? For example, if you know the page, etc., for censuses for 1900, 1910, 1920 in Tennessee, who could/would make copies for a researcher who has no access to such? -- Karen

A: You are referring to the Photoduplication Request Form that allows you to request copies of specific records. You can get this form through your local Family History Center, and then the copies are mailed directly to you. There are limitations to the types of records they can photocopy. While there are no copyright issues in regards to the US census, if they cannot fulfill your photocopy request, they will let you know and do not charge you.

For those needing census records, you can order these directly from the National Archives. By visiting their web site, you can request the "Copies of Census Records" order form (NATF Form 82). This form can be requested by e-mail and you can order up to a total of 6 copies of the form. Once the forms arrive, you need to supply the pertinent details, including:

  • Census year
  • State or territory
  • County
  • Township
  • Name of the head of household
  • Page number
  • Enumeration district (for 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920)
  • Other members of the household

If you supply a credit card, they will ship the copies as soon as they have them. Otherwise, they will notify you that they have located the census record you requested and tell you how much the copy will cost.

Another way to get copies of records from the Family History Library is to hire a professional genealogist. Many of the larger professional firms in Salt Lake City have specific rates for copies of such things as census records, especially when you have the exact information that you have.

Passenger Lists of the 1700s

Q: I am looking for information on how to locate all available ships lists from Ireland and Scotland in the late 1700s. -- Sue

A: Prior to 1820, there was no US federal law that required the recording of passengers as they disembarked in the colonies and then the United States. Because of this, there is no one single repository or collection of microfilms for these early passenger lists.

An excellent book on passenger lists is John P. Colletta's They Came in Ships, A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record. This book discusses all aspects of the passenger lists from the 16th century to the 20th century.

If you are looking for specific individuals, an excellent index is P. William Filby's Immigrant and Passenger Lists Index which has been published annually since 1982. There is a CD version of this index available through Family Tree Maker as part of their database CDs. The focus of these volumes is passenger lists and immigration information that has appeared in published works. Some of these works will deal specifically with Ireland and Scotland. The CD in question is #354: Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1538-1940.

World War I Service

Q: I have a James Wallace EVANS that I am having trouble obtaining World War I military service information about. Family tradition has it that he was a World War I veteran and that he received some land from the government. Was this land in compensation for his military service? His grave is marked with a government grave marker that says he was a Sergeant and he apparently drew a military pension. I tried contacting the VA and they have no record of anyone by that name.-- T. N.

A: The War of 1812 was the last war in which soldiers were given bounty land as compensation. If your ancestor received land from the government, it was not for his service in World War I. If you know when he received the land, you will want to pursue this further by requesting a copy of the bounty land file.

Also there was no federal pension paid to veterans of World War I. Some states did pay bonuses. Those states include:
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

It is possible that your ancestor's pension came through the state.

World War I records, on the federal level, are housed at the national Personnel Records Center (NPRC) 9700 Page Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63132. Unfortunately a fire in 1973 destroyed a larger percentage of the service records housed there. While it is important to contact them, it is possible that the records you seek were destroyed. To request records from the NPRC, you must use Form 180. To find out about requesting this form, you will want to visit the National Archives web site. At the present time Standard Form 180 is available electronically. You can find it at the Order Forms for Military Service and Family History Records.

One final resource to keep in mind is the State Adjutant General's office in the state where your ancestor lived prior to the war. Very often they have records in regards to those soldiers from their state in their archives.

Records of the CCC

Q: My father worked for the CCC during the Depression. He lived in Denmark, South Carolina at the time. I have not been able to determine what records are available, nor to whom I should write for these records. -- Jean

A: The CCC was the Civilian Conservation Corps. Created on June 28, 1937 by an act, this was the successor to the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) that had been created in 1933. The primary goal of the CCC and the ECW was to provide employment and vocational training for unemployed youths, some war veterans and Indians. This training was through conservation and natural resources development work.

Those involved in the corps were selected by State welfare agencies. While the National Park Service planned and supervised their work, the War Department was responsible for their transportation to the camps, housing, food and medical services.

The records for the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was terminated in 1943 by the act of July 2, 1942 are found in Record Group 35 of the National Archives. Some of these records are on microfilm. The General Records dating from 1933 to 1943 are on 193 rolls of microfilm and include:

  • Progress reports, 1933-42
  • Camp directories, 1933-42
  • Organization charts
  • Happy Days, the CCC weekly newspaper, 1933-40

It is likely that you will need to visit the National Archives or hire a professional researcher in order to pursue these records.


Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at rhondagen@thegenealogist.com.

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