Latin AmericaResearch OutlineTable of ContentsIntroductionUsing This OutlineLatin American Search StrategiesRecords At The Family History LibraryThe Family History Library CatalogMap Of Central AmericaMap Of South AmericaArchives And LibrariesArchives In SpainLatin American ArchivesBiographyFamily InformationCompiled BiographiesCemeteriesLocating Cemeteries And Cemetery RecordsCensusChurch RecordsInformation Recorded In Church RegistersInquisition RecordsLocating Church RecordsSearch StrategiesCivil RegistrationInformation Recorded In Civil RegistersLocating Civil Registration RecordsEmigration And ImmigrationFinding The Immigrant's Town Of OriginLocating Emigration RecordsGazetteersGenealogyFamily HistoriesCompiled GenealogiesMajor Databases And CollectionsHistoryHistorical ChronologyCalendar ChangesHistorical GeographyLocal HistoriesLand And PropertyLanguage And LanguagesLanguage AidsMapsUsing MapsLocating Maps And AtlasesMilitary RecordsTypes Of Military RecordsLocating Military RecordsNames, PersonalNative RacesRacial TerminologyNobility
Untitled Nobility [Hidalgos/Fidalgos]Titled Nobility [Nobleza/nobreza]Military And Fraternal Orders[Ordenes Militares And Cofradías/Confraternidades]Notarial RecordsPeriodicalsProbate RecordsSocietiesOther RecordsFor Further ReadingComments And SuggestionsINTRODUCTIONThis outline introduces records and strategies that can help you discover your Latin Americanancestors. It teaches terminology and describes the contents, uses, and availability of majorgenealogical records. Use this outline to set meaningful research goals and to select the recordsthat will help you achieve your goals.Generally, you must know the specific town in the country where an ancestor was born, married,or died in order to do research on that ancestor.You will need some basic understanding of genealogical research procedures. You may want toread the booklet Guide to Research [Guía Para Realizar La Investigación Genealógica/Guía dePesquisa], available at the Family History Library and at family history centers. If you are at theFamily History Library, you may also want to see the video orientation program (available inEnglish only).Using This OutlineThe “Latin American Search Strategies” section of this outline suggests steps for you to followto effectively research your family history. It is particularly valuable if you are just beginningyour research.The section “Records at the Family History Library” gives an overview of the Latin Americanrecords collected at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The “Family History LibraryCatalog” section explains how to use the library's catalog to find specific records in the library.Maps of Latin America are in the outline. The “Records Selection Table” can help you selectrecords to search.The outline lists, in alphabetical order, the major types of records used for Latin Americanresearch. The names of the sections in this outline are the same as the subject headings used inthe Family History Library Catalog (see “The Family History Library Catalog,”). Related topicsare grouped together under the same heading. For example, information about the history of
immigration to Latin America, emigration indexes, and passports is all listed under the heading“Emigration and Immigration.”At the end of the outline you will also find a brief list of “Other Records” and a shortbibliography of sources, “For Further Reading.”LATIN AMERICAN SEARCH STRATEGIESStep 1. Identify What You Know about Your FamilyBegin your research with family and home sources. Look for names, dates, and places incertificates, family Bibles, obituaries, diaries, and similar sources. Ask your relatives for anyadditional information they may have. It is very likely that your cousin, aunt, or other relativehas already gathered some family information. Organize the information you find and record iton pedigree charts and family group record forms, which you can obtain at the Family HistoryLibrary or at a Family History Center.Step 2. Decide What You Want to LearnSelect a specific ancestor or relative for whom you know at least a name, the town or parish inwhich he or she lived, and the approximate date of residence. It is very helpful to know thenames of other family members as well.If you do not have enough information about your Latin American ancestor, review the sourcesmentioned in step 1 which may give a birthplace or residence. For further suggestions on how tofind the name of the birthplace, see the “Emigration and Immigration” section of this outline.Next, decide what you want to learn about your ancestor, such as the place and date of marriageor the parents' names. You may want to ask an experienced researcher or a librarian to help youselect a goal you can successfully achieve.Step 3. Select a Record to SearchThis outline describes most types of records used for Latin American research. Each sectionprovides information to help you evaluate the contents, availability, reliability, and ease of use ofa particular type of record. It also tells you which time period is covered and the likelihood thatyour ancestor will be listed in it. To trace your family you may need to use some of each type ofrecord.
Several factors can affect your choice of which records to search. The “Records Selection Table”can help you decide which records to search first.Effective researchers begin by obtaining some background information. Then they surveyprevious research, and then search original documents.Background Information Sources. You may need some geographical and historical information.This information can save you time and effort by helping you focus your research on the correctplace and time period. Locate the town or residence. Examine maps, gazetteers, and other place-finding aids tolearn as much as you can about each of the places where your ancestor lived. Identifynearby cities, parish boundaries, and other geographical features, as well as governmentor ecclesiastical jurisdictions. Place-finding aids are described in the “Gazetteers” and“Maps” sections of this outline.Review local history. The history of each country has greatly affected the development ofits genealogical records. If possible, study a history of the area where your ancestor livedfor clues about the people, places, and events that may have affected their lives and therecords about them. Records containing information about migration and settlementpatterns, government jurisdictions, and historical events are described in the “Emigrationand Immigration” and “History” sections of this outline.Learn about Latin American jurisdictions. You will need to know how Latin Americancountries are divided into states, departments, provinces, districts, and so forth. For moreinformation about geographical and historical divisions, see the “History” and “Maps”sections of this outline.Understand naming patterns. Latin American families of Spanish and Portuguese descentfollowed naming practices common to the Iberian peninsula in Europe. Understandingthese customs can help you locate missing ancestors. See the “Names, Personal” sectionof this outline.Learn about local customs. Local customs may have affected the way individuals wererecorded. For example, during the colonial era in countries such as Mexico, the baptisms,marriages, and burials of Indians were typically recorded in separate Catholic parishbooks from those used to record non-Indians (see the “Native Races” section of thisoutline). Information about local customs may be found in the Locality section of theFamily History Library Catalog under:[COUNTRY] - SOCIAL LIFE AND CUSTOMSPrevious Research Sources. After gaining some background information, you will be ready tolook for research that has already been gathered by others. This research can save time and giveyou valuable information. There are few sources of previous research presently available formost Latin American countries, but you may want to look for— Printed family histories and genealogies.Family information published in periodicals.Biographies.Local histories.
Manuscript collections of family information.Hereditary and lineage society records.Remember, however, that the information in these sources is secondary and may contain someinaccuracies. You will want to verify the information you find in these records with that fromother sources.Records containing previous research are described in the “Biography,” “Genealogy,” “History,”“Periodicals,” and “Societies” sections of this outline.Original Records. After surveying previous research, you will be ready to begin originalresearch. Original research is the process of searching original documents (often copied onmicrofilm) that are usually handwritten in the native language. These documents can provideprimary information about your family because they were generally recorded by a reliablewitness at or near the time of an event.It is important to remember that original documents were written in the language of the countrywhere your ancestor lived. (See the “Language and Languages” section of this outline.) InHispanic Latin America, most records are written in Spanish; most Brazilian records are writtenin Portuguese. Some Latin terms may be found in both Hispanic and Brazilian records. In somecases, records kept by immigrant groups are written in the language of the immigrants, such asGerman, Dutch, or Italian. If you are unfamiliar with these languages, the Spanish Word List(34104), the Portuguese Word List (34099), the Latin Word List (34077), and, as needed, theGerman and Dutch word lists will help you translate the words used in original records. Theselists are available at the Family History Library and at family history centers in the United Statesand Canada.The handwriting in original records is not always clearly legible. Experience in searching theserecords will increase your ability to understand the language and read the handwriting found inoriginal records.To do thorough research, you should search original records from— Each place where your ancestor resided.Each religious parish in which your ancestor lived.The time period of the residence.All jurisdictions that may have kept records about your ancestor (town, parish, state, andnation).Most Latin American family information may be found in the records described in this outlineunder "Church Records," "Civil Registration," and "Emigration and Immigration".Step 4. Find and Search the Record
Suggestions for Finding Records. You may be able to obtain the records you need in thefollowing ways: Family History Library. You are welcome to visit and use the records at the FamilyHistory Library in Salt Lake City. The library is open to the public, and there are no feesfor using the records. If you would like more information about its services, contact thelibrary at the following address:Family History Library35 North West TempleSalt Lake City, UT 84150USA(See also “Records at the Family History Library” and “The Family History Library Catalog” inthis outline.)Microfilmed records from Latin America may be ordered at the Family History Library. MostLatin American films require a few days to be sent to the library. If you are going to visit thelibrary, you may first want to visit one of the more than 1,600 Family History Centersworldwide. Use the catalog there to choose the films you want to see, then write to the library torequest that the films be ordered for you so they will be there when you arrive in Salt Lake City. Family History Centers. Copies of most of the records on microfilm at the FamilyHistory Library can be loaned to family history Centers worldwide. There are smallduplication and postage fees for this service.The library's books cannot be loaned to the centers, but copies of many books that are notprotected by copyright can be obtained on microfilm or microfiche.You can obtain a list of the Family History Centers near you by writing to the Family HistoryLibrary at the address above. Archives and local churches. Most of the original documents you will need are kept innational, state, church, and local archives in Latin America. Although the Family HistoryLibrary has many records on microfilm, other records are available only at these archives.In many cases, you can either visit the archives or request photocopies of their recordsthrough correspondence. For information about how to contact Latin American archives,see the “Archives and Libraries” section of this outline. Local libraries. Public, academic, and other research libraries may have publishedsources for Latin American research. Although the books at the Family History Librarycannot be loaned to Family History Centers or other libraries, copies of these same bookscan often be obtained through your nearest public library. Professional researchers. You can employ a private researcher to search the records foryou. Some researchers specialize in Latin American records. Lists of qualifiedprofessional researchers are available at the Family History Library. Local libraries,
archives, and societies may also provide the names of individuals in the area who willsearch records for you. Photocopies. The Family History Library and other libraries offer limited photocopyingservices for a small fee. You must specify the exact pages you need. Books protected bycopyright cannot be copied in their entirety. However, a few pages may be copied forpersonal research.When requesting services from libraries or professional researchers through correspondence, youare more likely to be successful if your letter is brief and very specific. You should observe thefollowing guidelines when making written requests:--When writing within your own country, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope.--When writing to Latin America from an outside country, have your letter translated intoSpanish or Portuguese whenever possible. Enclose an international reply coupon (available fromyour post office) and 5.00 per search when requesting photocopy or search services from LatinAmerican archives.--When writing from within Latin America to another country, send the required amount ofmoney (if any) in the appropriate currency, according to local procedures.Suggestions for Searching the Records. Your research may be more rewarding and moreeffective if you can visit the library or archive yourself and personally search the records. Followthese principles as you search records for your ancestor: Search original records. Whenever possible, examine the original sources or microfilmcopies rather than abstracts (summaries of the original documents).Search for one generation at a time. Do not attempt to connect your family to others ofthe same surname who lived more than a generation before your proven ancestor. It ismuch easier to prove parentage than descent.Search for the ancestor's entire family. The records of each person in a family maycontain clues for identifying other family members. In most families, children were bornat regular intervals. If there appears to be a longer period between two children,reexamine the records for a child who may have been overlooked. Consider looking atother records and in other places to find a missing family member.Search each source thoroughly. The information you need to find a person or trace thefamily further may be a minor detail of the record you are searching. Be sure to note suchdetails as the occupation of your ancestor; the names of witnesses, godparents, neighbors,relatives, guardians, and others; and the places they are from.Search a broad time period. Dates obtained from some sources may not be accurate.Search records from several years before and after the date you think an event occurred.Look for indexes. Indexes can help you locate the records you need. However, manyindexes are incomplete. They may list only the name of the specific person a record isabout, excluding parents, witnesses, and other incidental persons. Also be aware that theoriginal records may have been misinterpreted or names may have been omitted duringindexing.
Note: Most indexes in Latin American church records are organized by given names rather thansurnames. Search for prior residence. Information about previous residences is crucial to successfulresearch. Records of events that occurred in towns of previous residence are most likelykept in the archives of those towns. By searching the records of all the towns where yourancestor lived, you may discover additional family information.Watch for spelling variations. Spelling was not always standardized when most earlyrecords were made. Therefore, you may find a name spelled differently than it is today orspelled in different ways within the same record.Record your searches and findings. Make copies of the information you find and keepdetailed notes about each record you search. These notes should include the author, title,location, call number, description, and results of your search (even if you find nothing).Step 5. Use the InformationCarefully evaluate whether the information you find is complete and accurate. Ask yourself thesequestions: Who provided the information? Did they witness the event?Was the information recorded near the time of the event, or later?Is the information consistent and logical?Does the new information verify information found in other sources? Does it differ frominformation in other sources?Does the information suggest other places, time periods, or records to search?Share with others the information you find. Your family's history can become a source ofenjoyment and education for you and your family. You may want to compile your findings into afamily history. You can then share copies of your history with family members, the FamilyHistory Library, and other archives.You are invited to contribute information or corrections to Ancestral File. For more information,see Contributing to Ancestral File.If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, be sure to submitinformation about your deceased family members so you can provide temple ordinances forthem. Your ward family history consultant or a staff member at the library can assist you.RECORDS AT THE FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY
Microform RecordsThe Family History Library in Salt Lake City has more than 190,000 microfilm and microficherecords from virtually every Latin American country, the largest collections being from Mexico,Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.Most of the library's records have been obtained through an extensive acquisition program. Thelibrary has microfilm copies of records found in government archives, church archives, andprivate collections. These records include— Birth, baptism, marriage, and death records.Census records.Notarial records.Immigration records.Printed RecordsThe library has approximately 4,500 volumes of books and other printed materials that arehelpful for Latin American research. These include— Atlases and maps.Family histories.Gazetteers.National and local histories.Copies of some of these books are also available on microfilm.THE FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY CATALOGThe Family History Library Catalog is the key to finding records at the Family History Library.The catalog describes each of the library's records and provides the call numbers. Copies of thecatalog are on microfiche at the Family History Library and at each Family History Center.The Family History Library Catalog is divided into four sections: LocalitySurnameSubjectAuthor/Title
To find the records described in this outline, you will most often use the Locality section of thecatalog. The Locality section lists records according to the geographical area they cover. Somerecords, primarily books dealing with general Latin American topics, are listed in the catalogunder LATIN AMERICA. Records relating to a specific country are listed under that country.Most records are listed under a specific town or city. For example, in the Locality section lookfor— The place where an ancestor lived, such as:BOLIVIA(country)BOLIVIA, CHUQUISACA(country, department)BOLIVIA,CHUQUISACA, SUCRE(country, department, city) Then the record type you want, such as:BOLIVIA - HISTORYBOLIVIA, CHUQUISACA - GAZETTEERSBOLIVIA,CHUQUISACA, SUCRE - CHURCH RECORDSThe record types (or subject headings) used in the Locality section of the catalog are the same asthe section headings in this outline (such as “Church Records”).The catalog generally describes each record in the language that record is written in. Eachdescription also includes a brief summary of the content in English.This outline provides some of the library's call numbers. Each number is preceded by FHL, theabbreviation for Family History Library.If you need more information about using the Family History Library Catalog, you can request tosee a short video program in English (at the Family History Library and English language FamilyHistory Centers). Written instructions, as well as librarians, are also available to assist you at thelibrary and at all Family History Centers.Records Selection TableRECORDS SELECTION TABLEThe table below can help you decide which records to search. (See step 3, “Select a Recordto Search”)In column 1 find the goal you selected.Then find in column 2 the types ofrecords that will most likely have the information you need.Additional records that mayalso be useful are listed in column 3.The terms used in columns 2 and 3 are the same as thesubject headings used in this outline and in the Locality section of the Family HistoryLibrary Catalog. Records containing previous research (biography, genealogy, history,nobility, periodicals, and societies) could provide information for most of the goals. Thesehave not been repeatedly listed unless they are especially helpful for a specific goal.1. If You Need:2. Look First In:3. Then Search:AgeChurch Records, CivilCensus Records
RegistrationBirth dateCivil RegistrationChurch RecordsBirthplaceChurch Records, CivilRegistrationCensus RecordsCity or parish of foreignbirthChurch Records, CivilRegistrationCensus RecordsCountry of foreign birthChurch Records, CivilRegistration, CensusRecordsEmigration and ImmigrationDeathChurch RecordsCivil RegistrationEthnicityChurch RecordsEmigration and Immigration,Census RecordsHistorical backgroundHistory, GazetteersPeriodicalsImmigration dateEmigration and Immigration HistoryMaiden nameChurch RecordsCivil RegistrationMarriageChurch Records, CivilRegistrationCensus RecordsOccupationChurch Records, CivilCensus RecordsRegistration, Emigration andImmigrationParents, children, and otherfamily membersChurch Records, CivilRegistrationPhysical descriptionEmigration and Immigration Biography, GenealogyPlace-finding aidsGazetteers, MapsPlaces of residenceBiography, Census Records HistoryPrevious researchGenealogy, PeriodicalsEmigration and Immigration,Census RecordsHistoryHistory, Biography
ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIESArchives collect and preserve original documents of organizations such as churches orgovernments. Libraries generally collect published sources such as books, maps, and microfilm.This section describes the major archives and libraries of genealogical and historical records forLatin American research. When one of these institutions is referred to elsewhere in the outline,return to this section to obtain the address.If you plan to visit one of these institutions, contact the organization and ask for informationabout its collection, hours, services, and fees. Some archives have catalogs, inventories, guides,or periodicals that describe their records and how to use them. If possible, study these guidesbefore you search the records of an archive so you can use your time more effectively.The Family History Library may also have a microfilm copy of the Latin American records youneed. The library has filmed records from archives and libraries in many Latin Americancountries and maintains an ongoing program of records acquisition throughout Latin America.See the sections of this outline entitled “Records at the Family History Library” and “The FamilyHistory Library Catalog.”Archives in SpainRecords of international interest about the era of European discovery, exploration, andcolonization of Latin America are found in the Archivo General de Indias in Seville, Spain, andthe Archivo General Militar in Segovia, Spain. The mailing addresses of these archives are asfollows: Archivo General de IndiasSevilla, EspañaArchivo General MilitarAlcala 9Madrid, EspañaFor information about records of particular genealogical value in these archives, see the“Emigration and Immigration” and “Military Records” sections of this outline.A summary of the records preserved at the Archivo General de Indias is found in:Peña y Cámara, José María de la. Archivo General de Indias de Sevilla: Guía de Visitante(General Archive of the Indies of Seville: Visitor's Guide). Madrid: Dirección General deArchivos y Bibliotecas, 1958. (FHL book 946 A2s; film 0,896,895.)
An additional description of the records at the Archivo General de Indias, as well as otherSpanish and Latin American archives which house documents of the Spanish American colonialperiod, is found in:Documentación y Archivos de la Colonización Española (Documentation and Archives of theSpanish Colonization). Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, 1980. (FHL book 946 A3d.)Latin American ArchivesLatin American countries have several types of genealogical repositories. The following listshows the kinds of archives and libraries that may be found in the country you are researching: National archives and libraries.State and provincial archives.Local civil registry offices.Church parish archives.Public and university libraries.National Archives and LibrariesEach Latin American country has a national archive or library that is an important source ofgenealogical and historical information. The national governments collect records relating tohistory, culture, and population. Records of genealogical value usually kept at national archivesand libraries include census records, court records, emigration and immigration lists, landrecords, military records, and, occasionally, church records. Census and church records from thenational archives and libraries of most Latin American countries may also be found in the FamilyHistory Library.A description of the records at the various national archives of Latin America, along with ahistorical sketch of each of the archives, is found in:Hill, Roscoe R. Los Archivos Nacionales de la América Latina (National Archives of LatinAmerica). La Habana: Archivo Nacional de Cuba, 1948. (FHL book 980 J5h.)The addresses of Latin American national archives and libraries are listed below: Argentina:Biblioteca NacionalMéxico 5641097 Buenos AiresArgentinaArchivo General de la NaciónAv. Leandro N. Alem 246
1003 Buenos AiresArgentina Belize:National Library ServiceBliss InstitutePOB 287Belize CityBelize Bolivia:Biblioteca y Archivo Nacional de BoliviaCalle España 25Casilla 338SucreBolivia Brazil:Biblioteca NacionalAv. Rio Branco 219–23920042 Rio de Janeiro, RJBrasil Chile:Biblioteca NacionalAv. Bernardo O'Higgins 651SantiagoChileArchivo NacionalMiraflores 50SantiagoChile Colombia:Biblioteca Nacional de ColombiaCalle 24, 5–60Apdo. 27600BogotáColombia Costa Rica:Biblioteca NacionalCalle 15–17, Av. 3 y 3bApdo. 10008San JoséCosta RicaArchivo Nacional de Costa RicaCalle 7, Av. 4Apdo. 10217
San JoséCosta Rica Cuba:Biblioteca Nacional “José Martí”Pl. de la Revolución José MartíApdo. Oficial 3La HabanaCubaArchivo Nacional de CubaCompostela esq. San IsidroLa Habana 1Cuba Dominican Republic:Biblioteca NacionalCésar Nicolás Penson 91Plaza de la CulturaSanto DomingoLa República DominicanaArchivo General de la NaciónCalle M.E. DíazSanto DomingoLa República Dominicana Ecuador:Biblioteca NacionalGarcía Moreno y SucreApdo. 163QuitoEcuadorArchivo Nacional de HistoriaAv. 6 de Diciembre 332Apdo. 67QuitoEcuador El Salvador:Biblioteca Nacional8 A Av. Norte y Calle DelgadoSan SalvadorEl SalvadorArchivo General de la NaciónPalacio NacionalSan SalvadorEl Salvador French Guiana (Guyane):
Université des Antilles et de la GuyaneBibliothèque UniversitaireCampus UniversitaireSchoelcher, BP7210Martinique Guatemala:Biblioteca Nacional de Guatemala5a Av. 7–26Zona 1GuatemalaGuatemalaArchivo General de Centro América4a Av. 7–16Zona 1GuatemalaGuatemala Guyana:National LibraryPOB 10240Georgetown, Guyana Honduras:Biblioteca Nacional de Honduras6a Av. Salvador MendietaTegucigalpaHondurasArchivo Nacional de Honduras6a Av. 408TegucigalpaHonduras Mexico:Biblioteca Nacional de MéxicoInstituto de Investigaciones BibliográficasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCentro Cultural, Ciudad UniversitariaDelegación CoyoacánApdo. 29–12404510MéxicoArchivo General de la NaciónTacuba 8, 2o. pisoPalacio NacionalApdo. 1999México 1México
Nicaragua:Biblioteca NacionalCalle del Triunfo 302Apdo. 101ManaguaNicaraguaArchivo Nacional6a Calle 402Apdo. 101ManaguaNicaragua Panama:Biblioteca NacionalApdo. 2444PanamáPanamáArchivo NacionalApdo. 6618PanamáPanamá Paraguay:Biblioteca y Archivo NacionalesMariscal Estigarriba 95AsunciónParaguay Peru:Biblioteca Nacional del PerúAv. AbancayApdo. 2335LimaPerú Puerto Rico:Instituto de Cultura PuertorriqueñaAv. Ponce de León 500POB 4184San JuanPuerto Rico, 00905 Suriname:Anton de Kom Universiteit van SurinameCentrale BibliotheekLeyswegPostbus 9212Paramaribo, Suriname Uruguay:
Biblioteca Nacional del UruguayCentro Nacional de Documentación Científica,Técnica, y Económica18 de Julio 1790Casilla 452MontevideoUruguayArchivo General de la NaciónCalle Convención 1474MontevideoUruguay Venezuela:Biblioteca NacionalBolsa a San FranciscoApdo. 68350Caracas 106VenezuelaArchivo General de la NaciónSanta Capilla a Carmelitas 5CaracasVenezuelaState and Provincial ArchivesIn Latin American countries, many states, provinces, and departments hav
Hispanic Latin America, most records are written in Spanish; most Brazilian records are written in Portuguese. Some Latin terms may be found in both Hispanic and Brazilian records. In some cases, records kept by immigrant groups are written in the language of the immigrants, such as German, Dutch, or Italian.