We have all used or heard of many online resources (FamilySearch, Ancestry, etc) and the availability of microfilmed records of the towns and villages in Trentino. One source that may not be often thought of is the archives in the city of Trento, Italy, and the one in Vienna, Austria (we should all be aware that prior to 1919 Trentino was under Austrian control). These archives have hundreds of years of documents that have not been digitized or otherwise made available for remote or online research. Depending upon the period involved, the documents can be written in Italian, Latin, German, or Old German, and must be translated to be of any use. The most difficult to translate is the Old German since the script and wordage is generally not in use in these modern times, thus requiring the services of scholars or historians for translation. Even with these difficulties, the archives should not be overlooked.
I was able to locate two documents at the archives.
The first was a 1604 document written in Old German depicting the coat of arms (family crest) of a Job (Iob) family from the village of Cunevo. It is multi-page and contains drawings. I could not locate someone able to translate it, but was fortunate enough to find a transcription and a translation into Italian in a book about Cunevo. I had heard about this document and sent an inquiry to the archives in Vienna. I wrote the inquiry in English since I figured that there would be many learned archivists with knowledge of commonly used languages. The staff there was kind enough to locate it, and mail a copy to me.
The second document (see left for one of the pages) was the military service record of an ancestor conscripted in 1901 and who served in the Austrian army. As we are aware,although culturally Italian, the people from Trentino were Austrian subjects and required to serve in that country’s armed forces. The military record was six pages, written partially in Italian and partially in German. It provided information with regard to my ancestor’s entry into the army, the unit with which he served, awards and decorations, personal description, fitness, reassignments, and discharge. This document was located at the Trento archive, and I enlisted the help of a researcher to locate the document and provide translations.
The archives have an online presence which can be used to make inquiries. Normally, the archives will not undertake extensive research for you, but may be able to tell you if certain documents exist. They may also be able to refer you to a researcher who would be able to undertake the research and locate relevant documents for you (if so, you should agree on rates and time since there could be extensive research involved). The archive sites are:
Trento State Archives — Archivio di Stato di Trento
Tirol Regional Archives — Tiroler Landesarchiv
Each of the sites has an e-mail address. If you know of the possible existence of official records (military, cultural, etc) for an ancestor from Trentino, try contacting either or both of the archives. Good luck.