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Italian family papers, 1200s-1900s

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  • Pietro Parenzi notarial document, 1239.
    Pietro Parenzi notarial document, 1239: Piccolomini Family Papers, Ms. Coll. 742, folder 2 (detail)
  • Letter written by an unidentified sender to Diego Naselli of Naples, pertaining to the guardianship and inheritance of Princess Marianna Grifeo di Partanna, daughter of Prince Leopoldo Grifeo di Partanna
    Letter written to Diego Naselli of Naples, pertaining to the guardianship of Princess Marianna Grifeo di Partanna, Naples 1826-7, Naselli Family papers (Ms. Coll. 788, folder 106, 2r, detail)
  • Concini Family Papers-Concini genealogy
    Concini genealogical document, 17th century: Concini Family Papers, Ms. Coll. 752, folder 27, 1r

The Kislak Center holds substantial collections of family papers from Italy, containing a wide range of documents dating from the Middle Ages and Renaissance into modern times. This webpage provides an overview of these diverse collections.

Collection strengths


This wide array of manuscript material may be of interest to researchers in many disciplines, including Italian Renaissance studies and business, economic, social, and cultural history.

Among the wide variety of subjects that these materials cover are the following:

  • Civil and canon law
  • Property law, inheritance, and succession
  • The Papacy
  • Merchant culture, commerce, and business practices
  • Agriculture, food production, and consumption
  • Material culture; written culture; correspondence and letter-writing
  • Accounting and banking
  • Family history and networks
  • Spanish-Italian relations

The cities and regions of Italy that are covered by these collections include:

  • Arezzo; Genoa; Florence; Naples; Sicily; and Siena
  • Some materials related to Spanish families who migrated to Italy.

Languages include: Italian, Latin, Spanish, and French.

Collection descriptions


Brief descriptions of the collections and links to catalog records and finding aids are below. For organizational purposes, collections are listed in order by oldest dated document, but note that the chronological scope of many of these collections is very broad:

Piccolomini family papers, 1197?-1724 (Ms. Coll. 742, 4 boxes and oversize materials): 129 mostly notarial and legal documents addressed to or relating to the Piccolomini family, most written in the 15th and 16th centuries. Many of the documents relate to the Church and papal intrigues, but most cover legal topics. View individual records for the Piccolomini family papers, sorted by date (oldest to newest).

House of Medici papers, 1219-1796 (Ms. Coll. 749, 42 boxes): Collection concerning the Medici family, their numerous enterprises (including banking, manufacturing, and commerce), as well as their political, diplomatic, and governmental positions in Florence, with the bulk of the material from the 16th and 17th century. View individual records for the House of Medici papers, sorted by date (oldest to newest).

Villafiorita Ducal Records, 1340-1928 (Ms. Coll. 788, 41 boxes): Papers of members of Sicilian families, often of Spanish descent, and documents pertaining to some of the territories they inhabited. Among the families whose papers are contained in these records are:

Arrigucci family papers, 1379-1674 (Ms. Coll. 751, 2 boxes): legal, financial and notarial documents, including confessions; accounts, and genealogical information. Digital facsimiles of the Arrigucci family papers are available.

Gondi Family papers, 1418-1753 (Ms. Coll. 750, 9 boxes): Papers of members of the Gondi family, dealing with numerous aspects of their private lives (including correspondence between family members and with other Florentine and French aristocrats; wills and dowries; and real estate dealings); public positions (including diplomatic correspondence with the grand-ducal administration and the French court); and economic activities. Portions of this material have been digitized.

Florentine documents and correspondence collection, 1437-1804 (Ms. Coll. 761, 5 boxes): Collection concerning Florentine families, organizations, trades, and industries covering the years 1437-1804. The families that are best-known in the collection include the Acciaiuoli, Altoviti, Antinori, Corsi, Corsini, Guadagni, Rucellai, Salviati, and Strozzi; the best-represented families in the collection are the Amadori, Capponi, Cassi, Lapini, and Ricciardi.

Carretto family papers, ca. 1500-1648 (Ms. Coll. 732, 1 box): Individual documents contain discussions between rulers of Finale Ligure and other locations, such as Genoa, primarily regarding investitures, trade and sea navigation rights, food and salt.

D'Avalos Pescara family papers, 1512-1902 (Ms. Coll. 739, 132 items): historical information, correspondence, and notarial and legal documents pertaining to the Pescara branch of the d'Avalos family and relationship between the family and the Spanish monarchs and viceroys. Includes legal, property, and commercial materials.

Uguccioni and Marucelli families: materials include Uguccioni family papers, 1520-1534 (Ms. Coll. 753, 31 items): letters on business and agricultural matters. Digital facsimiles of the Uguccioni family papers are available. Also: Uguccioni and Marucelli miscellany (Oversize Ms. Codex 1491), a separate codex of letters and accounts related to the business of various members of the Uguccioni and Marucelli families divided into three parts and written in 1520-1526 and 1532.

Sacro militare ordine di Santo Stefano records, 1565-1578 (Ms. Coll. 736, 173 items): Legal and notarial documents, referred to as prove di nobiltà, concerning members of some of the most important families of Florence, including the Medici, the Gondi, the Albizzi, the Arrigucci, and the Strozzi.

Concini family papers, 1572-1685 (Ms. Coll. 752, 3 boxes): genealogical tables, copies of baptismal and burial certificates, descriptions of the family's properties, inventories of its household goods, documents relative to its honors and privileges, and accounts.

Bandinelli family papers, 1685-1765 (Ms. Coll. 746, 27 items): letters and accounting materials relating to this Florentine family and their businesses and properties.

Ravenna family documents, 1818-1827 (Ms. Codex 489, 1 vol.): Copies of documents from the Ravenna family of Gallipoli, Italy, relating to land tenure, income from properties, and building construction.

Aitala family papers, ca. 1926-2001 (Ms. Coll. 697, 5 boxes): Documents, notebooks, and diary entries relaying the narrative of the Aitala family's migration through and immigration from Italy to the United States during and after World War II.

Acquisition history

The majority of these collections were acquired by the Penn Libraries in the 1960s and early 1970s, through purchase from a number of different dealers. When acquired, many of these manuscript groups were added to the Henry Charles Lea Library and given Lea manuscript numbers: however, they postdate the collection formed by Lea himself by half a century. The Aitala family papers were a gift of Tina Aitala (2008).