Researching your Italian Family in Australia
Due to the political and economic turmoil in Italy after WWII, thousands of Italians migrated to Australia to find work and a new home for their families. In Australia’s 2011 census, over 916,000 persons identified themselves as having Italian ancestry. Some families may have lost touch during and after migration, as siblings and other relatives ended up in different parts of different countries.
Mary Tedesco of ORIGINS ITALY kindly invited me to write a guest article on researching Italian immigrants who came to Australia, as a guide for her Italian-American readers in researching their extended families. It is also an ideal starting point for Australians wanting to research their Italian ancestry.
National genealogy resources
Italian Genealogy Research in Australia – Part 1, my guest article on ORIGINS ITALY, focuses on two key national resources – the National Archives of Australia’s RecordSearch and the National Library of Australia’s Trove – and includes links and some handy tips for optimising your use of their sites.
The snippets below were found using the above resources:
- It all started with Giovanni – a summary of 120 years of Italian migration to Australia, published by The Canberra Times on 25 September 1967 (plus other related articles on surrounding pages)
- Il Giornale Italiano (Sydney NSW, 1932-1940) – browse or search the issues available in Trove; note the Introductory Greeting in English on the first page
- 300 More Arrive on Remo in Melbourne including Two Proxy Brides To Meet Their Husbands – 25 September 1937
- Italian Houses to Arrive Soon – the first batch out of 1000 pre-cut homes due from Italy – Queensland Times, 22 December 1951
- 11,196 Migrants for Queensland, including 1670 Italians, due in the second quarter of 1952 – Queensland Times, 24 April 1952
- 650 migrants on one ship are all single men – The Canberra Times, 26 July 1952
- Italian Migrants For The North – 256 migrants arrived in Brisbane on the Toscana – The Townsville Daily Bulletin, 12 June 1954
- Great photo of MV Toscana passengers about to depart from Trieste in January 1954, published by the Australian National Maritime Museum
- Wives for Migrants? – Queensland needs more single Italian women: – the Central Queensland Herald, 6 October 1955
- Italian Migrants Come Here to Work – illustrated article on passengers of the Toscana, published by The Courier-mail, 11 June 1954
- Big batch of migrants due – another 400 Italian migrants arrive in Melbourne – The Argus, 3 August 1956
- Plan to Attract the Best Migrants Available – government agreements to bring more skilled workers and females – The Canberra Times, 22 June 1959
- The ’New Italy’ colony established in NSW in the 1880s by 250 Italians, its 52nd Anniversary celebrations, and a photo and obituary of its oldest resident
- Italian Intake to be Maintained – another 15,000 Italian immigrants expected to arrive this year - The Canberra Times, 1 April 1963
Some general resources on Italian-Australian immigration include:
- More People Imperative Immigration to Australia, 1901-39 – details records on Commonwealth immigration policies 1901-39, including those that encouraged or restricted migration.
- Department of Immigration publications, including Italy-born Community Information Summary and Immigration & Population History (Italy pp36-38)
- Google eBooks have many titles that can be read online, including The Italians in Australia and Destination Australia
- Groups and societies such as The Italian Historical Society - CoAsIt and the Italian Australian Institute.
State-based genealogy resources
Italian Genealogy Research in Australia – Part 2, the second part of my guest article on ORIGINS ITALY, provides suggested strategies for further research of your Italian relatives or their descendants in Australia, and includes links to the major state-based information resources and indexes online, including state BDM registries, archives and libraries.
The range and coverage of indexes and available documents varies considerably by state, but may include BDM indexes and certificates, wills and probate, immigration indexes and passenger lists, electoral rolls, land records, educational and occupational indexes, cemetery indexes and monumental inscriptions, photo collections, criminal and convict records, and hospital records.
Don't forget that your search terms are important and can be repeatedly varied to produce different results (eg. surnames, including variations in spelling; maiden names; firstnames; childrens names; place names and variations, including 'Italy', 'Italian', village/town/city/region of birth or residence; occupations; ship name; arrival year; arrival port or state; birth year; immigration scheme names).
Australia's national and state-based information resources may surprise you and reveal something interesting about your family, help you reconnect with lost family members, or might simply expand your knowledge of available resources for your genealogical pursuits in Australia.
I'd love to hear from you below if you find these resources useful, find something remarkable about your family and would like to share it, or if you would like to add another good source for tracing your Italian relatives in Australia!