Beginning in 1875 the Civil Registration records used in Canischio, Italy were recorded on pre-printed forms. This simplifies the translation process since the information is typically displayed in a consistent format.
Here is the first entry in the 1881 Birth Records for Canischio, Italy.
In the left-hand margin, the records are all numbered sequentially, and the name of the child is recorded. Remember that names in Italian records are generally recorded Last Name, Given Names. So we can see that this is record number 1, and the name of the child is Maria Angela Campasso. Sometimes you will see the child’s name followed by “di” and the first name of his or her father.
Many birth records will have additional annotations in the margin. Typically these annotations are for marriage and death information. Sometimes, if corrections to the original birth record were ordered by a court, you will see notations to that effect in the margin as well.
In this case we can see that on May 17, 1898 Maria Angela Campasso married Giuseppe Fassino in the town of Canischio and that the marriage was record number 2 that year. Sometimes the dates in the annotations are written using only numbers. Keep in mind that while American records follow the pattern mm/dd/yy, Italian dates begin with the day of the month followed by the month and then the year. In this situation the date would have been written 17/5/1898.
Below the marriage annotation is another stamp recording the death date. This tells us that Maria Angela Campasso died in 1962 in Canischio, and it was record number 1 for that year.
Now on to the main body of the record. Paragraph one records the date and time the record was made. The first line has three blanks for recording the date the birth was reported. Note that this date is not necessarily the date of the actual birth. The first blank records the year, the second blank is for the day, and the third blank is for the month. This record was made on January 3, 1881.
The next line of the record has three blanks to record the time of day the birth was reported. The first blank tells whether it was AM (ante) or PM (po), the next blank is what hour or the day it was, and the next blank if for the minutes. In this case the birth was reported at 2:00 p.m.
Paragraph two tells us all the vital details of the birth. It begins with who the birth was reported to. This birth was reported to Galetto Gioannini who was the mayor (sindaco) and an official of the town of Canischio.
The next part tells us about the informant and the birth. The informant is Pietro Campasso. He is 25 years old and is a farmer living in Canischio. He declares that at 10:00 a.m. on the 2nd of the current (corrente) month the baby was born. So this is the part of the record that will confirm the actual birth date as opposed to the date the birth was reported. Sometimes this line that should contain the day of the month may not have a number, but will instead have the word oggi which means “today.” In this situation the birth date is the same as the date the birth was reported and will be the date at the very top of the record. Other times you may see the word ieri, meaning yesterday. You can then figure out the birthdate using the reporting date at the top of the record and going back one day. Every now and then, a birth is reported in the first couple of days of one month but actually happened on the last few days of the previous month. In this case you will see the words scorso mese which means “last month.” It is really important to watch the information in this section to be certain of the correct birthdate.
After the date, the address of the actual location of the birth is recorded. This baby was born in Borgata Braida in house number 7. The last information recorded in this part is the name of the mother, Maria Bianco. After her name are the words sua moglie, meaning “his wife.” This tells us that the informant, Pietro Compasso, is also the father of the baby. The age and profession of the mother is recorded as well. If for some reason the informant was a midwife (levatrice), a friend, or another family member, the father’s name, his age, profession, and residence will also be recorded in this section.
Finally we come to the sex of of the baby and her given names, Maria Angela.
The final part of the birth record includes the names, ages, and professions of two witnesses. The document is then signed by the informant, the two witnesses, and the civil official who took the report.
Here is another copy of this birth record as a .pdf with annotations showing what information each field in the record contains. You can use this as a pattern as you work on the birth records for your particular relatives.
If you have any questions or need translation help, leave a comment and I’ll be sure to respond!