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I'm looking for an ancestor who moved from Italy to Brazil between 1800 and 1900.

Where can I find Brazilian immigration records?

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  • Please do not hesitate to provide specific details of this ancestor either via an edit to this question, or as a follow up (new) question. It can often be useful to describe where/how to look for records using a worked example. – PolyGeo Mar 30 '15 at 8:00
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There is a Brazil Genealogy page at FamilySearch that leads to a Brazil Emigration and Immigration page that mentions Italy:

From 1808 to 1940 immigrants came to Brazil from over 50 nations all over the world; most were from Portugal, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, Russia, France, Spain, Turkey, the British Isles, and other South American countries. This wave of immigration was caused by political and financial conditions and by work opportunities on the plantations. Many settled in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Rio de Janeiro.

There is at least one website listed, called Imigrantes Italianos, that looks like it may be useful to you.

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This source is also from FamilySearch, but not yet listed - it is not specifically related to Italian sources but have surprising results, at least for me, when also looking for brazilian immigration online sources. You may very well find your italian relatives immigration records there.

It list a big collection of records categorized by place, date and collection type. In my case, I was after immigration records to Brazil in the 20th century (older records can be found as well), for a couple of states, one of them, Pernambuco. Not all of the collections is indexed for online research (some are simply the microfilm digitalizations, not very useful for us researching online).

After picking a place, you choose the catalog type. If you pick one that is indexed online, then the next and final step is entering first/last name or other input data and going over the results.

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Family Search has a very good database of documents. But be aware that different regions have different states of completion. For example, the state of Paraná seems to have plenty of indexed death records. But not many marriage and birth records. The state of Santa Catarina has plenty of indexed marriage records and birth records.

Apart from that, try the Sistema de Informações do Arquivo Nacional and then Fundação Biblioteca Nacional.

It's a bit messy, but I will try to elaborate. I suggest you do this:

  1. Go here: http://bases.an.gov.br/rv/menu_externo/menu_externo.php and search for your ancestor's surname. It was very common to make typos back in the day, so search for the correct surname first, and then try variations of it, skipping characters and all. For example: "de Bona" can be "Bona", "Bonna", "di Bona", "di Bonna", "de Bonna", "Bon", "deBon", etc. You get the gist.
  2. If you do find something in that website (horaaay), it means your ancestor has a record on the national archives when he/she travelled. So go to this website: https://sian.an.gov.br/sianex/consulta/login.asp and register, then search for the reference code (the one at the top) you got in the previous system. That will bring up the scan with the passenger list of the ship that person boarded. Also, pay attention to the names around that person's name. There could be more members of the same family there. I suggest you download the PDF file and keep it handy.
  3. Next, go to this website: https://www.familysearch.org/en/ and register. It's free. Make a search for your ancestor's full name. If your ancestor is a woman, try married and maiden names. Also, search for immediate relatives of that person. Their names can be in other records such as marriage records and such. Try variations of the surname and name. Remember that Brazilians love to translate names, so "Teresa" becomes "Thereza", "Pietro" becomes "Pedro", "Giuseppe" becomes "José" and so on. Not all make sense, people with certain names have novel syntax, like "Giosuè" as "Josué" or "Giosué" with "é" instead of "è". Many records were not indexed. So if you have a date, you can search "manually" in the scanned register. To do that, find the records area of the website and use the map to select Brazil. Then a list will show up and you can find scans from parishes and registers in different towns and states.
  4. If your ancestor was Italian, in Brazil, especially the state of "Santa Catarina" or "Rio Grande do Sul", in the 19th century, chances are he got himself a plot of land. If that is the case, try this website: http://memoria.bn.br/hdb/periodico.aspx Search for the surname of your ancestor. Same rules as previosuly. This website has newspapers of the time. Search the "despacho" columns as they contain messages to the various institutions that dealt with land property and tax collection back in the day. Your ancestor may have required a property certificate (in English it's roughly equivalent to a freehold, fee simple, these things). These requests were published in the newspapers.

You can also search for Italian records here:

http://dl.antenati.san.beniculturali.it/en

But I only had success with the records from Napoleonic Italy. It is not a general rule, because different parts of Italy were dominated by different groups. So the Napoleonic times were pertinent in the north, whereas in the south it is probably irrelevant. There are huge gaps in these scans and they are not, at all, indexed. All searching must be done the hard way: reading each registry separately. Knowing the year you need helps.

Good luck!

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