Few North Americans are fortunate enough to be able to visit Italy for genealogy research. The vast majority must rely on other means to conduct their research. The first step is to obtain a copy of your own birth certificate, which will give the names of your parents and, we hope, other information about them, such as where they were born and their ages at the time of this birth. By subtracting their ages from the year you were born, you arrive at the approximate year they were born. Now you obtain records on these parents. Do you know where they married? The vast majority of Italian immigrants were Roman Catholic, so it is not unlikely that they married in a Catholic church. Since churches and governments maintain parallel sets of marriage records, it is wise to attempt to get both. One record may have information which the other lacks. Churches transcribe information onto certificate blanks, but the original record in the book may contain information for which there is no space on the certificate. This may include such unimportant details as the names of the parents of the bride and groom. If you think you might have a use for such information, then request that the church furnish a photocopy of the page in the book. When writing to a church, it is wise to include a few dollars' donation. We want them to look forward to genealogy enquiries with eager anticipation, not regret. In performing the sacraments of first communion, confirmation, holy matrimony, and ordination, the church performing the sacrament would require a baptismal certificate, and would record the name of the church where the person was baptised, and the date. This is true in many but not all cases. In cases of marriage or ordination, a note would be made on the baptismal register of the baptismal church. In marrying in a Catholic church, the priest would write to the baptismal church and let them know. If the person is already married or ordained, the baptismal church will sound the alarm and the marriage will be prevented. The value of these notations cannot be underestimated. Perhaps your immigrant ancestor came to Boston, leaving behind a brother who, several years later, came to Chicago. That brother's baptismal record may show a marriage in the Chicago church, helping you to locate an entire branch of the family. In one case on my family tree, a widow was remarrying. Of course, her baptismal record showed the first marriage, and the record of the second marriage made note of this, along with the explanation that the husband died in Castelcivita, 5 May 1909. Castelcivita is a small town in Salerno province. I don't know if the priest verified the explanation, but the fact that an explanation was required at all attests to the diligence with which this recordkeeping was performed in some cases. After exhausting civil and church records, you should not fail to access the newspaper death notices. Newspapers are microfilmed, and the microfilms are kept at public libraries, usually in the area of the newspaper. If you know the date of death, check that day's paper and keep checking each edition for about two weeks. Death notices often mention the names of siblings, ("...survived by a brother, ....") giving their current home towns. You may want to check the headlines for a few days before the pers on died, in case death was caused by a newsworthy event. If you have trouble locating death records, try visiting or writing to the cemetery where your ancestor is buried. Their records should show the date of death, or at least the date of burial. Quite possibly they will also have the place of death on record. Perhaps your ancestor may have died out of State, so the home State may have no record of it. If possible, visit the grave itself and check the monument for any clues it may offer. Also, relatives may be buried nearby, and you can add them to your fam ily tree. In this way, you might locate individuals whose records were not found because of changes in their surname. ARCIERI may have become ARCHER, or SANGREGORIO may have become ST. GREGORY. Widows may have remarried, and changed their names. Three more organizations you should contact are the Family History Center in your area, the National Archives and Record Administration, and the POINT network. Family History Centers are operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and are often located in Mormon meetinghouses. Look them up in the telephone directory and ask for more information. Among the many valuable sources of information the Mormons have are microfilms of Italian birth records, (except your ancestral hometown and mine,) the Social Security Death Index, and the Ancestral File. Ancestral File is a computerized file of family trees that have been submitted by various genealogists. Information on living persons is kept confidential under the church's privacy rules. However, if you should find a branch of your family tree on Ancestral File, you can easily obtain the name and address of the submitter. Ancestral File differs from the International Genealogical Index in that IGI contains names submitted for temple work, i.e. Mormon religious ordinances performed on behalf of a deceased person. The Mormons do not obtain names for temple work from Ancestral File submissions. This is important because members of your family might object to such temple work. The National Archives has regional depositories which you can visit. The records you will want are U.S. Census records and naturalization papers. Census records are valuable sources of family members' names. Many people may be omitted, and ages are often wrong, but the information in the census may lead you to solid records on family members. Naturalization papers may show your immigrant ancestor's birthplace and birthdate. POINT is a network of genealogists pursuing Italian roots. If two distant individuals trace their family tree back to the same small town in Italy and are researching the same unusual surname there, chances are pretty good that they are related. That is the purpose of the POINT annual directory. If somebody has submitted your surnames from your ancestral town, you will find this in the alphabetical listing, which also gives you the submitter number. Check the numerical listing of submitter numbers a nd y ou will get the name and address of the submitter. If you should join POINT ("Pursuing Our Italian Names Together," PO Box 2977, Palos Verdes CA 90274.) and receive its directories annually, please remember to donate any expired directory to a nearby genealogy library, Family History Center, or the genealogy section of your public library. This will allow other researchers to learn about POINT and possibly even find cousins of theirs on the spot. This author is POINT member number 1506.