Mexican catholic church records are what I like to think the low hanging fruit in Mexican Genealogy research since they are, in my opinion, the easiest records to find.
In this post I will show you where to search and browse Mexican Catholic Church Marriage, Baptism, and Death records in order to find your Mexican Ancestors and ancestry.
These records are also very valuable since they date from as early as 1560 up until the 1950’s. If you read my previous post, Find Your Mexican Ancestors Using Civil Registry Documents, then you will know that these records preceded the Mexican Civil Registry records.
Thanks to FamilySearch most of these records have already been indexed and are available online from anywhere in the world. Unfortunately some parishes have not been indexed but I will give you some ideas where to find indexes for those areas. For your convenience you can access all records available at FamilySearch from this websites Church Records Page.
Before we get more in-dept let me just warn you about name variations. Since these records go back hundreds of years back up until the 1500’s and in some locations, the way names used to be written has changed. The older the documents you will find that Jose was written as Joseph and Javier as Xavier. Also be aware of abbreviations such as Jph for Joseph, Ma. for Maria, and Fraco/Franca, for Francisco/Francisca. You might also want to see the following PDF, Spanish Name Abbreviations, for more examples. When reading the old documents also keep in mind that a lot of common words or even places were abbreviated.
Searching Mexican Church Records at FamilySearch
The primary place to search for your ancestors is FamilySearch since they have indexed most Church collections, but if you don’t find them there do not be discouraged since I will also tell you about other alternatives. For your convenience you can find the links to search for Marraige, Baptism, and Death record from this websites Church Records Page.
Searching Marriage Records
To search I always enter the grooms name and also wife’s name, if their names are not that common you will only get a few results but if they are very common you will get several. When you get several look at the dates and location of the records to find you ancestors. Once you find the indexed record you will only see the basic information indexed and most of the time the parents will be listed. If they are not listed don’t worry it does not mean that their names are not on the original document, many times they are. You can search for Marriages here Mexico, Marriages, 1570-1950.
Searching Baptism Records
Once you find the names of your ancestor from their marriage record the next step is to find his/her baptism record. To do this just enter the names of the parents and hopefully your ancestors baptism will be along with the ones of his siblings. Once again if the names are common which is not that common, narrow it down with place and dates. You can search for Baptisms here Mexico, Baptisms, 1560-1950.
Searching Death Records
Death Records are a bit hard to locate since sometimes there may be many results with the same name but again narrow it down to location and date. Also try entering the husband/wife name or parents and you will sometimes find it that way. You can search for Death records here Mexico Deaths, 1680-1940.
You Have A Date Then What
Unfortunately the indexed records do not have a link to the copy of the original image. So now we will browse FamilySearch Mexican Collections to locate the document and I will demonstrate this with an example.
I had been searching for my third great grandparents for years but could never locate them on the Municipality of Mier Tamaulipas where my Marroquin family was from in Mexico. Then I tried searching for them in FamilySearch and got a result Jo. Angl. Marroquin and Franca. Perez for Allende Nuevo Leon. At the time I had no idea about common abbreviations and did not know it was them so I ignored it. Then about a year after I learned about abbreviations these names came back to me and I searched for them again. This time the same record came back plus my second great grandfather’s baptism record came back listed with several of his siblings as well. At this point I knew I had the right couple. I also learned a very important lesson, always come back to see if more records have been added, since I am assuming that the first time the baptism records for that locality had not been indexed yet.
I then got the date for the marriage record, and went browsing. I first went to familysearch.org / Mexico / Mexico, Catholic Church Records / Browse through 16,596,760 images / Nuevo Leon / Allende / San Pedro Apostol and finally Matrimonios 1857-1905. Once there it took me a few minute to locate the record for 1865 since they are in order by date it was not that difficult. As I have mentioned in previous posts if you use FastFilm you can find your records faster.
After I read it I found out that the names were also abbreviated in the original document and that the parents for both of may ancestors were listed there but for what ever reason they were not index. This is why it is very important to always get a copy of the original document.
Through further research of church marriage, baptisms and death records I found out that my Marroquines were from the Allende, Santiago, and Monterrey area and have traced them back till the 1600’s just with church records.
FamilySearch Has Not Indexed Everything
This is very important to remember, in my area of research, Ciudad Camargo Tamaulipas and Cerralvo, Nuevo Leon have not been indexed. Though FamilySearch does have their images online for browsing.
When I can’t find my ancestors in FamilySearch I always search for them in Google, you will be surprised. Many times someone else has already done research on them. For example Raul Longoria has hundreds of people listed for these two areas and I use his research to locate the original images. You might also want to search for books that have indexed those records already like the ones offered at SAGA (Spanish American Genealogical Association). You might also want to check out your local University Library for genealogical books pertaining to the city or town where your ancestors lived. In my case I have found over 100 books where at least one of my ancestors is named and in some instances they are the focus of the whole book. These books have provided me with dates to locate copies of original images. An example of these books is Los Marroquin de el Valle de Santiago del Guaxuco, I found it in my local University.
I hope that I have provided you with the necessary knowledge and ideas on how to locate your ancestors using Catholic church records. Please let me know about your finds in the comments area. The most important thing to remember is that these records are available at FamilySearch or from this website’s Church Records Page. If you have any comments or tips concerning these records, please leave me a message I would love to read them.
Read Next Article in the Getting Started Series
i truly hope that you have found this article to be of use and that you have learned more about using Mexican church records in your own research.