Using Biographical Dictionaries In Your Genealogy

Using Biographical Dictionaries In Your Genealogy

In this post, you will learn about biographical dictionaries and of how using biographical dictionaries in your genealogy might help you in your family research.

Biographical dictionaries provide a brief essay on historical figures and or all persons found for a certain location, event or time period.

Example of What I Found in a Biographical Dictionary

I recently bought two autobiographical dictionaries.

The first one is titled "Diccionario biografico de antiguos pobladores de San Luis Potosi 1592-1666". For those of you that do not read Spanish the title translates to "Biographical dictionary of former settlers of San Luis Potosi 1592-1666". I paid almost $60 for it.

Int he whole book I only found reference to two of my ancestors. For this post I will only talk about one of them, "Francisco Baez de Benavides" on page 64. It reads as follows:

"Baez de Benavides, Francisco 

Originario de Tenerife en las Canarias. Vecino del pueblo de Minas de San Luis. Hijo legitimo de Gonzalo Baez y de Marta Lopez.

Capitan.

El 17 de septiembre de 1637, presento solicitud ante el alcalde mayorpara que se recibiera informacion y presentar testigos que declarasen como el era hijo legitimo y heredero de Gonzalo Baez y Dona Marta Lopez, todos originarios de Tenerife en las Canarias."

The above helps reinforce whom his parents are. It provides me with information as to where to continue my search for his ancestors. Prior to this entry I had no idea he was a Captain and thus that is another avenue for research. By looking at the references in the book I also plan to obtain copy of the information submitted by witnesses proving his parentage.

The second biographical dictionary I bought was "Diccionario Biografico de Tamaulipas". In this case I got lucky since I was able to find it online for only $5.

I won't post a full entry since the ones I found were pretty lengthy, but it was instrumental and helping me piece together the children and relatives of General Antonio Canales who was married to a niece of Fray Servando Teresa de Mier. Fray Servando is a descendant of my 8th great grandparents Pedro Botello and Josefa Gonzalez.

The entries provided the place of birth, death, and names of parents among other great genealogical information. Also, I searched every entry for the town of Mier, Tamaulipas and was able to match them to people on my database.

Other Biographical Dictionaries

Here is a list of the autobiographical dictionaries that I have used in my own research.

  • Diccionario Biografico Hidalguense 3 Volumes - This books are great for anyone with roots in the state of Hidalgo.
  • Diccionario Biografico del Occidente Novohispano Siglo XVI 4 Volumes - This book series covers the area of Durango, Zacatecas, and Jalisco.
  • Diccionario Biografico de Santiago, Nuevo Leon - As the name implies it is for the city of Santiago, Nuevo leon.
  • Diccionario Biografico de Saltillo - This book focuses on people that lives or are form Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico.
  • Diccionario Biografico De Nuevo Leon - This book is my favorite one, many of the entries refer to my ancestors.

Remember, the above are the ones I have used in my research. To find dictionaries for your area of research in Mexico just do a google search. Another thing some of these dictionaries are rare and you will only find them in libraries.

Other Books Not Labeled As Dictionaries

I want to note that many books out there contain short biographies within the book and some of them are all biographies but are not labeled as such. Some examples are:

  • Whos Who of the Conquistadors - This book is basically a biographical dictionary packed with genealogical information.
  • Ameca Protofundación Mexicana - The book focuses on the history of the Ameca region but towards the end it includes a geographical and biographical section. I have found ancestors listed there.
  • Cedulario Autobiografico de Pobladores y Conquistadores de Nuevo Leon - This book lists first hand accounts by the early settlers and conquistadors listing in many cases whom their parents were.
  • Abasolo, Nuevo Leon - I included this book since it is about the history of a small town in Nuevo Leon but the book includes biographies of notable people from its history. 

I hope that this post has opened a new area of research for you or at least learn something new. If you come across a great biographical dictionary let me know.

Other Posts That May Interest You

Analyzing Church Marriage Records

How to Find Your Ancestors Using Mexico’s Civil Registration Records

The Golden Book of the Spanish Nobility


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