This last week or so I was asked to help a patron at the Brigham Young University Family History Library with research into her Italian ancestors. After a short review of the status of her family research, we began by searching the FamilySearch.org Catalog for the place where her ancestors lived. Starting with a general search for "Italy," we looked for "Places within Italy" and found the province where her family lived.
There were a lot of choices, but she already knew that her family came from Udine.
We clicked on the link for Udine and saw the records available for the province.
A further click on the "Places within Italy, Udine" gave us a much longer list. We found the town where her ancestors lived, "Varmo."
One more click took us to the FamilySearch Records for Varmo. There were seven different Civil Registration records for this town in Italy.
Fortunately, the records were digitized and in the Historical Record Collections as indicated by the link in the statement in red. We began our search by looking at the records in the Historical Record Collections.
We clicked on Udine, to show the records in that location. After scrolling through a long list of place names, we found Varmo.
We then found a chronological list of record sets that we could search. Within minutes we were finding her family members. We continued to find new people to add to her ancestry until she had to leave.
This is remarkable. She had no idea the records for her ancestors were in the FamilySearch.org website. Neither did I for that matter. I had been asked to help her because I could read Italian. But, guess what, I hadn't needed to know one word of Italian to find the records. We found the digitized records by doing a search in the FamilySearch Catalog.
Later, when looking at the new additions to the Historical Record Collections, I found a very interesting fact. The entire Udine Collection had only been added a few days before this patron began her search.
There are several lessons to be learned from this. First, a search of the Historical Record Collections can be started from the FamilySearch Catalog. Second, the list is growing every day and just because you looked yesterday, does not mean the records are not there today. Third, the records can be successfully searched without an Index. Fourth, the records are freely available. Fifth, I didn't need to know Italian to find the record.
What about reading the record once found? Well, that did take a little work in Italian. But, I could have used a Google Translation Search or a dictionary or an Italian Word List online. All of these would have been sufficient to read the records, had I needed them. Which I did not. Another lesson to the missionaries at the BYU Family History Library is the fact that any one of them could have helped this lady. We did not have to wait for someone who could research "Italian" records.