In many italian genealogic research you could find child for whom both parents were listed on the civil registration of birth as ”unknown’. This is a very big ‘brick wall’. Infant abandonment was widespread, for a variety of reasons: the extreme poverty of most citizens in large town and the social disapproval for unwed pregnancy was.


Many new mothers anonymously abandoned their infants at the foundling wheels (ruota dei trovatelli)  located in the outside wall of the church or hospital, sometimes leaving a sign of recognition, such as the image of a saint, an half medal, a torn piece of cloth, to preserve the mother’s ability,  of returning to reclaim the child,  even many years later.


Meanwhile, the foundling homes attempted to place the babies with lactating women in foster families, typically in the countryside, though some of the children remained in an ospizio for many years.

Like those of all citizens, foundlings’ birth, marriage, or death records, or rectifications, are kept permanently in the Anagrafe or Registry Office of each town, with a copy in tribunal archives. You can find many information about the origin and the fate of your ancestor in the historical register of foundling homes, hospitals or asylums. Now these registers are often preserved in the State Archives of every Italian province. Sometimes you could  reveal the identity of the biological parents.