parish books project

The preservation of documents and the guarantee of easier use have led to the start of a project to digitize the parish books of the Archdiocese.

Considering the different ages of the collected documents, the general state of preservation is generally good even if the oldest books, entirely manuscripts, in addition to the normal deterioration due to the time, have been damaged by events that have compromised the structural conditions.

Precisely because of the possible fragility of the latter, it was decided, with a view to protecting as well as publishing, to proceed with digitisation through a process of photo-reproduction.

Pursuing the aim of proposing as faithful a reproduction as possible, the pages have been digitally reproduced by checking the ambient lighting conditions, so as to allow the absence of reflections or artifacts and the best legibility and, where possible, respecting orthogonality with shooting techniques.

Thanks to a dedicated algorithm, specially developed, the original definition has been preserved, meeting the needs of web publishing.

In order to propose the books respecting their documentary and historical value, in addition to the demographic interest and genealogical reconstruction, the publication took place almost entirely in order to return the documents in a faithful manner with regard to their content.

A reconnaissance and verification operation aimed at excluding documents protected by privacy and annotations present in different media, such as unconnected documents, sometimes present and of negligible interest. The original thematic and temporal composition of the individual physical books has been retained for publication, with a chronological order to facilitate consultation.

The project was financially supported by Archbishop Emeritus mons. Vittorio Mondello.

The digitization of the approximately 300 thousand pages of the parish books was carried out by Ben van Rijswijk and Anna Maltese, while the document reconnaissance and verification work was carried out by Rocco Grillo.

As of 15 December 2017, the diocesan online historical archive contains 305.451 images of high resolution digitized pages (for a total initial size of about 1 Terabyte, or one million Megabytes) extracted from 2033 parish books of 109 parishes of the Diocese of Reggio Calabria-Bova.

Book type No. of books No. of images
Baptisms 864 171.839
Burials 543 69.466
Marriages 603 62.158
State of Souls 21 1.433
Mixed (Baptisms + Burials + Marriages) 2 555
Total 2.033 305.411

The 2033 books – usually divided into Baptisms (for a total of 864 volumes), deceased (543 volumes) and Weddings (603 volumes) and State of Souls (21 volumes) – concern, for the moment, the historical period included between 1589 and 1945 and come from 57 parishes of Reggio Calabria (of which 21 in the centre and 36 in the hamlets) and 52 parishes of other 24 municipalities. It is estimated that the currently online digitized archive contains no less than 625,000 personal information useful for historical and genealogical research.

Locality No. of parishes
Reggio Calabria 57
downtown   21
districts   36
Bagaladi 1
Bagnara 5
Bova 4
Bova Marina 1
Brancaleone 2
Calanna 2
Campo Calabro 1
Cardeto 1
Condofuri 3
Fiumara 2
Laganadi 1
Melito di Porto Salvo 4
Montebello Ionico 4
Motta San Giovanni 3
Palizzi 3
Roccaforte del Greco 1
Roghudi 2
San Lorenzo 4
San Roberto 1
Sant’Alessio in Aspromonte 1
Santo Stefano in Aspromonte 1
Scilla 3
Staiti 1
Villa San Giovanni 1
Total other diocese municipalities 52
Total parishes 109

Calabria FormazioneThe association Calabria Formazione supported and implemented the project by providing free services and technical advice. In particular, Antonio Galletta and Giorgio Nordo have been involved in the compression and optimization of archive images as well as in the development of the web application code that allows online consultation of parish books and the possible purchase of one or more pages.

Share this on