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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Researching Your History: Ancestry.com

Where I last left off on my quest to Italy was applying for a university. Unfortunately, that route was not possible. The universities there require mandatory intensive language courses and an exam before they can even accept you. At the university I was applying to, it was at the same time as my sister's wedding.

My new route I am pursuing is applying for Italian citizenship. The past week has been exhausting. I have been working well over 40 hours at work. In addition, during the evenings I've been doing research on my family's history. Ancestry.com has done wonders. 1900, 1920, and 1930 federal census have revealed lots of information. My family generally knew where our family lived when they first arrived in 1893 and where they eventually moved. These documents have shown birth dates, occupations, as well as exact addresses. I also found WWI and WWII draft registration cards for two of my relatives. They list their birth dates, which are now known to be exact dates from comparing to other documents. They also listed their occupations and even the name of the company and its location! One draft card even confirmed suspicions of their origin.

Originally, we are from the province of Massa-Carrara, and more specifically, the comune of Carrara. Bologna, our other theory, did not match well. Most of the males in our family and their friends were marble masons. It would be difficult to hold such an occupation in Bologna. In Carrara, marble is abundant and a large marble exporter! I've had a genealogist helping find this information and he will be contacting the comune soon!! It's so exciting!

The only negative I have going against me is an old 1912 law. Those who were born before 1912 gained citizenship under jure soli. Jure soli states that you gain the citizenship of the country in which you are born. In 1912, this law changed to jure sanguinis. This is how many people abroad acquire Italian citizenship. Jure sanguinis means acquiring citizenship through a bloodline. Your bloodline determines your citizenship. However, it can only be passed down if the parent relative naturalizes after his/her child is born. If the parent relative naturalizes before his/her child is born, the citizenship does not pass down to the child, and completely cut off for all of those born thereafter. It is also harder for individuals to receive it through their maternal side. Before 1948, women could not pass down citizenship to their children. Due to an amendment of the constitution in 1948, this became allowable. So it can only be passed down if the child was born after 1948. Quite absurd, but it's how it is.

In a few days I am hoping to be receiving the documents in the mail, and then plan to go to the consulate about applying. Keep posted as I go through the process. I plan on writing timelines, how I went about the process, and how long it took me.

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