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Latin American Research

  • Naming Conventions:
    • Individuals use both maternal and paternal surnames. The paternal surname traditionally comes first.
    • When a woman marries she keeps her full name. She may add her husband's paternal surname,
      • Look for a name following de, de la or del.
    • Example Mary Jones Smith de Brian:
      • Jones is her mother's surname,
      • Smith is her father's surname,
      • Brian is her husband's paternal surname.
    • Women traditionally kept their maiden names when they married. Children took on both the father's and mother's surnames, in that order.
      • This allows a researcher to be able to predict what the parent's surnames are.
      • Hint: Search by the paternal surname first (the first surname).
  • The backbone of Latin American research is:
    • Civil Registrations, and
      • The Mexican Civil Registration Office (Registro Civil) keeps vital records of births, marriages and deaths since July, 1859.
      • Prior to the restoration of the Mexican republic in 1867 compliance was slow. Therefore, check both civil registration and parish records for these years.
      • These records can be found through the Family History Library or Family History Centers.
    • Catholic Records
      • Need to know Parish and Diocese.
      • These records have not been widely microfilmed. In order to obtain these records, you will need to write or visit the parish or diocese.
    • Boundaries frequently shifted in Mexico. Read about Mexican territorial boundaries here.
    • You can read about changes to Catholic parishes and dioceses here.
  • Hint: Look at the original records. In many cases, not all of the information is indexed.
  • FamilySearch
    • Has a large collection of records, but many have not been indexed.
    • Click here for a list of Mexican specific records.
    • Has Mexico 1930 Census.
      • The Mexican 1930 census is one of the first mandatory accountings of individuals.
      • It includes names, ages, gender, birthplace, address, marital status, nationality, religion, occupation, real estate holdings, literacy, any physical or mental defects, and any Indian language spoken.
    • Border Crossings into U.S.
    • Argentina 1869 and 1895.
  • Newspaper Collections:
  • Hispanic Genealogy Society of New York