Resources To Help You Decipher Handwritten Mexican Church And Civil Records

Once you find your first documents and overcome the joy of finding them. It can be discouraging that you may not be able to decipher them. I mean decipher since some are very hard to read, specially when you do not know what the document contains. I won’t lie to you some are super easy to read but there are some that it does take considerable skill and knowledge. It took me several months of practice to really start transcribing documents with ease.

As you can see it may be hard to make out the words as the above document indicates.

Even at that I can not transcribe all Spanish documents, the ones I have no problems with are Mexican Church, and Civil documents. Don’t tell me to transcribe any other Spanish speaking country because I can’t. One thing that does help allot is looking at the other documents next to the one that I am trying to transcribe and sometimes that helps make out the words, since they are similar and may be more legible.

Here are the sources that I used to learn to transcribe Mexican Spanish Church and Civil Registry Documents. The tutorials are provided free of charge by BYU (Brigham Young University) Center for Family History and Genealogy. The following tutorial will help you get familiarized with Spanish parish records. It also contains an index of given names, surnames, abbreviations, Glossary of Spanish terms, occupations, and Racial designations

Check the tutorial here, you can chose between Spanish and English

English Tutorial

Spanish Tutorial

Other Excellent Guides 

Spanish Genealogical Word List – This list contains Spanish words with their English translations. The words included here are those that you are likely to find in genealogical sources.

Transcription Rules & Techniques – Abstracting & Transcribing Genealogical Documents, By Kimberly Powell.

Handwriting Helps by FamilySearch.org – They have three lessons dealing with Handwritten Letters, dates and words, and Documents.

Software To Help You Out

Use Transcript 2.3 or Genscriber depending on your needs, both are free for personal non commercial use.

The one that I use personally is Transcript 2.3 for it’s ease of use and features.

I hope that you may have found all these resources useful and helpful towards having you do your own transcription and hopefully your own translations. At first, as I mentioned before, it will be hard and sometimes frustrating but don’t get discouraged.

About Moises Garza

I have doing my family genealogy since 1998. I am also the creator of this blog Mexican Genealogy, and my personal blog We Are Cousins. To always be up to date with both of these sites follow me on facebook. Please feel free to contact me for anything.

6 thoughts on “Resources To Help You Decipher Handwritten Mexican Church And Civil Records

  1. Linda Scoggins

    I think it is a wonderful idea to help the Mexican people do their genealogy. I just finished taking a college course on immigration and have come away from it with a MUCH deeper appreciation of the problems the Mexican people encounter in their lives, esp. as pertains to the problems between the USA and Mexico. But where my heart lies that I want to see things change is for the children whose parents come to the USA illegally. These children, many of whom my own grandchildren are friends with (Jose calls me Grandma), are people without a country. It is SO sad. Jose wants with all his heart to join the armed forces but he can’t. His family can’t return to Mexico because they left a deadly situation behind, Jose still has nightmares at 15 years old. And now his father has passed away from cancer and although there are other extended family members it still feels even emptier. I really believe that if these children could find their genealogical roots they would feel more connected somehow, more grounded. They need to know they are not just floating around disconnected, but have come from somewhere and this gives people a feeling that they can succeed, no matter what the odds. If they can find stories of those who came before them, strong ancestors who have survived no matter what, beautiful and rugged, they will feel a sense of pride. Please do work any programs that will help them. Thanks, Linda

    1. Moises Garza Post author

      It is unfortunate that many children who come to this country have no say so when their parents made the decision to immigrate. I have seen first hand young kids 16 and 17 going through the process of deportation. My heart would break when I would see so much love for this country and the patriotism they had. Some would cry and ask me “what am I going to do in Mexico my parents brought me to this country when I was a baby? I have no one over there.” I have never felt so helpless and just realized that some things are just injustices. I just wished everyone would do their genealogy and see for themselves that most of their ancestors came to this country just like these kids did. Then ask themselves where would I be if immigration had deported my ancestors? Of course they did not get deported because there was no border patrol or ICE back then. Mexico has over 400 years of history and is rich in culture, the sad thing is that for all these years it has been exploited and robed, not just of its natural resources but of its people, thus creating the current situation. Thanks for your comment and I hope you tell Jose about this website, with some research he will find ancestors that have been Generals, Soldiers, Explorers, Adventurers, Royalty, and will find cousins that he did not know he even had.

      Thanks for your comment,

      Moises Garza

  2. Jaime

    Moises,

    Thanks for the information. I have started researching my family tree using family search. I’ll check out some of the tools you posted for managing the information. Have you written a blog post about your personal quest?

    I am just searching my paternal lineage, as it has become increasing complicated the more I find out. I’m having a little trouble deciphering a marriage information record from GTO, so I might inquire about your services if I can’t do it myself.

    Thanks,

    Jaime

    1. Moises Garza Post author

      Hi Jaime,

      I am glad that you found this website useful and I highly recommend you enter your research into a genealogy program since it will make things much more cleared and manageable. With time and practice it becomes easier to read documents but if you need me I am here. I don’t recall if I have done a post about my personal quest but I do have a personal blog were I document all of my findings it is http://www.wearecousins.info. If you have ancestors from South Texas or Northeastern Mexico I highly recommend that you check it out.

      Have fun,

      Moises Garza

  3. Aida Mueller

    Dear Mr Garza,
    I am very happy that you have made available your website to us of Mexican heritage. Please would you tell me where I can find the documents of births and deaths in Merida fo the 1910’s and the 1920’s. The censuses of these years are not available to study. Thank you for your help.
    gliglu@live.com
    Aida Mueller

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