Archiver > ITA-SICILY > 2006-08 > 1154813407

Subject: Re: [{ITA-SICILY-L}] Riveli and LDS
Date: Sat, 5 Aug 2006 17:30:07 EDT

Hi Riveli users,
Robert Porcaro has freed me to share his essay so, in an .txt form, here it
is (without the images in his original .doc form).

Sicilian Riveli Records By Robert Ralph Porcaro Columbus Day 12 October

During part of the years 2002 and 2003 I had the privilege to serve as a
volunteer at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City Utah. My assignment
was to scan and catalog over 1,100 Riveli microfilms. During that time I
reviewed microfilm records for many of the 389 villages in Sicily. What a
wonderful way to become acquainted with the homeland of my grandfather. As I
scanned the microfilms I would locate the community on a map of Sicily then look
up information on the atlas and gazetteer. Later I was able to search the
internet for pictures and historical information on several communities. The
following article is an attempt to summarize a few things I discovered about
Riveli records from Sicily.

The Riveli
Riveli in Italian means to reveal. The Riveli record served as a census to
record inhabitants (anime) and possessions (beni). The Riveli pages were
bound together in a volume with a string threaded through a hole near the top of
the page and another string through a hole near the bottom of the page.
Most volumes held the records of up to 1,000 pages. A few Riveli records
exceeded 1,000 pages.

Purpose of the Riveli
A Riveli was a census to determine population and taxation for revenue. The
Riveli served the king of the country as a monitor to determine how many
males there were in the kingdom that were of age to serve in the military or to
work on road projects and also how many animals and producing farm land was
available to produce food for the kingdom.

Years Available on Microfilm
The Family History Library has microfilms of Riveli records for many of the
years that Riveli records were recorded. I have personally reviewed the
following years from varied communities in Sicily.

1548, 1569, 1583, 1584, 1589, 1593, 1597,
1607, 1612, 1614, 1616, 1621, 1623, 1624, 1636,
1637, 1639, 1651, 1652, 1664, 1674, 1681, 1682,
1714, 1747, 1748, 1750, 1752, 1754, 1755, 1756, 1757, 1765,
1811, 1812, 1815

About the Indice (index)
Older indexes such as 1674 listed family names using the given name, (first
name) first, in alphabetical order followed by the surname. Following the
name in the index is a page (folio) number and with some luck you can find the
actual Riveli record either following the index or on another microfilm.
Some indexes precede the record some follow the record, and some records have no
index. I have experienced reading an index where there is no Riveli record
available. Also, I have seen names listed on the index but that person’s
Riveli page is not included with others. Finally, I have found a family Riveli
page with others but that persons name was not in the index. Some indexes
include the head of the household with other members of their family listed with

Information on Riveli Records
There are many words used in a Riveli record that are common to most
records. Following is a list of a few words to be familiar with. Tassa=tax,
terra=land, anime=souls/inhabitants, beni=goods/possessions, lordo=gross amount to be
taxed, netto=net amount to be taxed (usually 5-10%), mascoli=male,
fimmini=female, capo di casa=head of household, moglie=wife, figlio=son,

The name of the head of the household is listed on the top of the page
(usually on the right side), and again in the text of the Riveli (usually after
the word anime), and at the end of the Riveli on the left side of the final

Sometimes the name of the father of the head of the household is listed on
the first entry at the top of the page and once in a while the mother’s name is
also listed.

Within the text of the Riveli is first the name of the head of the household
followed with the name of the wife (sometimes with her maiden name) then the
children. Sometimes the children are listed with son’s names first then
daughters next.

Ages are listed for males only. But I did find a few records where the
females had their ages listed. Be aware that ages were estimates and then rounded
off to the nearest ten years, so in most cases are not accurate.

In many Riveli records the head of the household has his nearest neighbors
listed also. Look for family groups. It is interesting to note that the Riveli
record for the common person was often scribbled and brief whereas a Riveli
record for the aristocracy was printed in formal calligraphy with detailed
pages. Sometimes the pages were adorned with fancy borders and large calligraphy

I have even found pages with ink line drawings of the person taxed. The
conclusion of each Riveli had the name of the tax assessor and at times the
signature of witnesses and occasionally the priest of the community.

Items Taxed
Taxation was placed on people and possessions including real estate,
buildings, and animals. The animals were divided as caprai=goats, giumenta=mares,
cavalla=horses, bovi=cattle, vacche=cows, pecore=sheep, asini=donkeys and
muli=mules. I saw pigs mentioned in the Riveli but never on a tax summary. The
animals that pulled carts were inventoried separately (animale ad uso di
Note that the taxation was ten percent of the value. (2197=219, 1049=104
Land was taxed according to use such as irrigatablili=able to irrigate,
frumentale=for growing grain, boschigne=wooded or orchards, rampanti=sloped or
hillside, and non pagano=not profitable. Houses were taxed by the amount of
rooms on each floor. Included in the assessment were vineyards, orchards,
groves, water wells, farm tools, sheds, silos, and household furnishings. Land was
sized in hectares. One hectare=2.47 acres.

Special Recognition
It is apparent that the Riveli records were focused on the peasant farm
workers. Very few Riveli records were found listing nobility. However, when they
were found they listed the person’s title such as Don or Donna for honorable
people and Duca, Duchessa, Barone, Conte,Contessa, and Principe, for nobility.

Items of Interest
A few records listed a ten year back tax for persons that lived and worked
in a community but had not been taxed for the past ten years. See the 1811
Riveli for taxation for individuals living in a community between 1800 and 1809.

Monetary Values on Riveli Taxation
Many of the Riveli records assessed the taxes in a system that is recorded
in history. The following are from Monete Siciliane Antiche on the internet at Also from the introduction to the book Lo svilupo Di
Villafrati 1596-1960 by Giuseppe Oddo.

Monete Sicilane Antiche: In 1862 the Cambio Rate was:
6 Denare =1 Grano 1 Grano = .0215 Lire
20 Grani =1 Tari 1 Tari = .425 Lire
12 Tari =1 Scudo 1 Scudo = 5.10 Lire
30 Tari =1 Oncia o Onza 1 Oncia =12.75 Lire

(Tariffe: Bestia di Carico) Tariff on animals information is from Lo
Sviluppo di Villafrati 1596-1960 by Giuseppe Oddo (page 16).
Bestia di Carico (loaden or burden) = Grana 2
Carro a 2 Ruote (cart with two wheels) = Grana 4
Bestia di Lettiga (litter or pulled) = Grana 6
Carrozza a 4 Ruote (cart with four wheels) = Grana 8
E 2 Cavalli (cart with two oxen) = Tari 1
A 4 Buoi (with four oxen) = Tari 2

The Three Valleys of Sicily
The Riveli records are stored in repositories by community in alphabetical
order according to one of the three valleys of Sicily.
Val Di Mazara is the western half of Sicily with its border starting between
Termini Immerse and Cefalu on the north and Licata on the south.
Val Demone is the northeastern portion of Sicily with its border starting at
Enna and going to Catania on the east.
Val Di Noto is the southeast portion of Sicily with its border starting at
Enna going to Licata on the south.

Writing on Riveli Records
Most ink was home made and much of the writing has faded over the years.
Common damage to the pages came from poor storage procedures in damp rooms.
Damage occurred from dampness, mold, and worms.

Community Name Changes
Watch for name changes of a community over the years. Also, watch for
spelling including dialect, Greek, and Latin.
Corleone = Cariglione, Coneglione, Coniglione, Cuniglione,
Canigliumi, Cunigghiuni
Bisacquino = Busachino, Busschino, Busaguino, Busaechini
Monreale = Montisreaalis
Mezzojusso = Mensojusso, Meliguisi, Mioijusto, Mezzoiusso
Busacchino = Bisaquini, Bisaquino, Bisagrum, Bosachino, Bascchino
Sciacca = Ciacca, Sacca, Sacce, Xacca, Xiaca, Xiacca
Agrigento = Gergenti, Girgenti
Capri = Crapi
Aderno = Aderna, Adrano, Adranus, Adranu, Adranum, Adirmo
Geraci = Jachi, Dijaci, Jaci, Girachi, Di Jaci, Iaci, Jacis, Jachi, Jiraci

Comune Vari
Comune Vari is a variety of community records mixed, scattered, incomplete,
and at best random. They may or may not be indexed. There may only be one
report from a given community mixed in with many from another community Some
commune vari records have a great deal of Riveli records for one community
followed by many from another community. If you’re lucky the microfilm you are
reading will have each of several communities in alphabetical order. Most
commune vari records are, however from one geographical area from one of the three
valleys of Sicily. It appears as though the Riveli recorders missed a few
people and went through the countryside gathering information and taxes for
those missed previously.

Bridges from The Past
Riveli records could be your means to bridge from your civil records back in
time. Note that many of the available records are a generation apart, so a
person listed as a child on one record will appear as the married head of a
family in the next record.

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