This afternoon’s lecture is on Passport Applications at the Archivio di Stato di Napoli (State Archives of Naples). Paola Manfredi, our instructor for this session, examined the documents on file in Naples for Italians who applied for a passport to leave Italy. The records only cover the period from 1888 to 1901 but for our research into the Giorgio and Iacobucci families the records may exist since many of them left Italy during this time.
Passport applications can be a goldmine for genealogists. The written documents may include the reason the person is leaving Italy, where she came from, where she is going, her marital status and certain documents from Italy such as her birth certificate, birth certificate of any children and marriage license. Unfortunately – there are no pictures – just lots of paperwork with information about height, eye color, hair color, complexion, size and shape of nose, body shape, and any distinguishing physical characteristics.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could find the passport application for our ancestors! Unfortunately these records are not available online and they may not even be available to the public.
So what’s the exciting discovery? It turns out there are efforts underway to reconstruct information and records for Italian emigrants and the results are available on line. So I took a look and thought I would share what I found. Recognize any familiar names below? Line 56 shows Custodia Iacobucci, age 17, who arrived in New York on 2 April 1897.
Other records for Custode list her birth year as 1880 or 1881. Her birth date in the Social Security Death Index is 27 May 1880, which would mean that she was about 2 months shy of her 17th birthday when she arrived in New York.
The benefit of finding this site is that the image associated with it provides the exact date of her arrival in New York and the name of the ship she was on – the Burgundia – and her destination in the United States – Brandville and the town she was from in Italy – Castel di Sangro. The added benefit of finding this record while I was in this program at GRIP, is that the woman who does research for the Western Genealogical Society was able to tell me that there is a town in Westmoreland County just south of Pittsburgh, where her ancestor settled, named Bradenville.
Once I had the name of the ship and the date and a little bit of time to scroll through the online records at Ancestry.com, it didn’t take long for me to find the record of Custode’s and Rosallia’s arrival in the US. It helps that I’ve been looking at Italian cursive handwriting for the past four days but the example above probably gives you a pretty good idea why Custode Iacobucci wasn’t showing up in the indices I’ve been searching for the past three years. From this record you might think her last name is “sister.” It also helps to know that she probably came over with her sister Rosie who we now know was names Rosallia. And even though her last name doesn’t look like Iacobucci, trust me, it is.
It is highly unlikely that I ever would have found this record if I hadn’t learned about the Italian website so I have nothing but high praise for my course at GRIP and especially Paola Manfredi who told us about this website.