Every day is a learning curve when it comes to genealogy. Today I was lucky enough to receive a document from the Archivo Di Stato Di Catania. I wrote to them on March 8th so I only waited 17 days for a reply, which I think is a great turnaround. This document was the Liste d’Estrazione for my great-grandfather Francesco Rapisarda.

What is a Liste di Leva?

Military records in Italy are an invaluable resource for researchers of italian ancestors. From 1865 onwards, the liste di leva (List of eligible men to serve in the military) comprised of all young men born in Italy. They were required to serve in or register for the military service. The list was compiled by the towns who sent a list of all the living males who had reached eighteen years of age. These lists hold great pieces of information that will assist you in learning about the appearance of your ancestors, their parent’s names and whether they served in the military, were ineligible due to their health or were deserters. (Having immigrated to another country or literally not appeared for their health examination.) Those who deserted could be arrested for draft evasion if they illegally immigrated to another country or legally immigrated without their entire family. The production of the Liste di Leva stopped in 1923 with only the Liste d’Estrazione remaining in its place.

What is a Liste d’Estrazione?

When a male became eligible to serve in the military at age twenty-one, the draft board (consiglio di leva) would examine the man’s health to determine whether he was in physical condition to perform the duties required of him in training and service. Health was not the only reason for exemption. The third or fourth son of a family with sons who had already served in the military were in many cases exempted, particularly if they were the sole surviving son. The kind of information available in the Liste d’Estrazione (Lists of Extraction) included: the man’s name, his parent’s names, his residence, his date and place of birth, his occupation, the results of the physical examination, or if the draftee had immigrated before his examination they would note the date and destination of his travel.

Below are some examples of the Liste d’Estrazione. Click to enlarge:

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Liste d’Estrazione of Francesco Rapisarda. Aged 35 years. Father Salvatore, Mother Giovanna Muri. Born 19 December 1887. Unable to read or write. Occupation: Contadino (Farmer).

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Height: 159.5cm tall. Chest: 84cm. Skin Color: Brown. Hair Color: Castag (abbrv. Castagno) Chestnut. Eye Color: Castag (abbrv. castagno) Chestnut. Teeth: Sano (Healthy). Decision after examination: Abile arruolatu 1 categ. richiesta non evere distretta alle 2. Able and enlisted. Requested not to be moved to district 2.


Paolo Sulfaro. Son of Giuseppe and Giuseppa Sulfaro. Born 24 October 1882 in Giardini. (Mistake. He was actually born in Messina.) Occupation: Contadino (Farmer). Unable to read or write. Height: 154cm, Hair color: costag (costagno, chestnut), forma (form of hair) lisci (straight), eye color: neri (black), skin color: bruno (brown), dentatura (teeth): sano (healthy), Chest: 76cm.  Riformato per deficienza del perimetro toracico ed oligoemia. (Cent. 76) Addi 11- 5 -1916 Gia informato e precettati classe 1882. rimandato al li 1 dicembre 1916 perche all’estero. 23 – 12 – 1916 Abile arruolato in prima categoria quale rimandato al 1 Dicembre 1916 perche all’estero. Translation: (Reformed to deficiency of the thoracic perimeter and oligemia. (76-centimeters) Addi 11-5 -1916 Already informed and conscripted class 1882. Postponed to December 1, 1916 because abroad. 23 – 12- 1916 Able, enrolled in the first category which postponed to December 1, 1916 because abroad.

Other Records

There are other military records available that provide information on an ancestors who served in the military. These include the Registro dei Fogli Matricolari (Draftee Curriculum of Service Record), Foglio di Congedo Illimitato (Discharge Records), and Registro di Ruolo (Service Records).

An example of a Discharge record of a soldier who died in WW1 is shown below. It include information on the person’s recruitment, services, promotions and other changes matriculation of the time period between from when they were called to military service, to the date of absolute discharge or in this case death. Click to enlarge:


Paolo Sulfaro. Enlisted in 1916, went missing in battle in 1917. Was awarded a medal of merit in 1920.