November 4, 2021
Do you have ancestors from Mexico? A friend of mine does, and she wanted to trace that family line, but she didn’t speak Spanish or know how to begin. Here are a few tips for researching Mexican genealogy.
There are two main record types for birth, marriage, and death in Mexico. They are civil and church records, which will both be in Spanish. There is no central location for records, so you will need to find them through U.S. records for the town and municipality in Mexico where your ancestors lived.
Civil registration began in 1859 but was not enforced until 1867. Ancestry and FamilySearch have some civil registration records from 1861 and after. If records are not online, write (in Spanish) for records to the Civil Registration Official in the municipality your ancestors lived.
The other type of record is church records. Many people from Mexico are Catholic, and some Catholic records are online through FamilySearch, ranging from the late 1500s to the 1980s. Otherwise, write or visit the parish in the town your ancestors came from.
Births were reported within a few days of the birth by the child’s father or the midwife. The Catholic Church continued keeping records after civil registration began. Check for both civil and church records. By 1917, when separation of church and state was created, couples had to be married by the state to be legally married. Church weddings were accepted by the state, but usually civil authorities married couples before a church wedding.
In larger towns, there may be more than one civil office. Based on your research, you may need to determine which civil office you need to contact for records. The same goes for parishes for church records.
My friend found a naturalization record that listed the town her ancestors were from. The search was on! Using maps, translation software, and her research, she was able to trace this line back a couple of generations, and she is still going!
Do you have ancestors from Mexico? Share your research journey in the comments below!
Midwest Genealogy Center
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