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Catholic Church Records

History

In 1563, the Council of Trent, which was a gathering of the Roman Catholic Church to examine and condemn their doctrines, formalized record keeping practices that were already being followed in much of the Catholic world. Separate record books were to be maintained for baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and deaths. The Catholic Church, which was established in Mexico in 1527, was the primary record keeper for Mexico until civil registration started. Different dioceses usually followed the same standard of writing, so the information found in records are mostly consistent.

The vast majority of Mexicans were Catholic and registered in the records of the local parish or diocese, known as registros parroquiales (parish registers). These records include entries for baptisms, confirmations, marriage information documents, marriages, deaths, and burials. Often, two or sometimes even three generations are indicated in the registers. The records were kept at the parish and a copy was sent to the diocesan archive for preservation.

For additional history about Catholic Church records in Mexico, see Mexico Catholic Church Records Historical Background.

Use and Condition

Church records are crucial in Mexico since civil authorities did not begin registering vital statistics until after 1859. For civil vital records of births, deaths, and marriages after 1859, see the Mexico Civil Registration Records wiki article.

Some church records have been lost or have deteriorated due to natural effects such as humidity, insects and more dramatic events such as fires, floods, and earthquakes. Civil and political strife have also caused the destruction of parish books. Some records were destroyed or damaged because of poor storage. However, many records that are considered lost or destroyed have simply been misplaced or misidentified.

Diocese Establishment

It is important to note that individual dioceses started documenting life events only after they were established. Each diocese began at different times, here is a list of the years some dioceses were started:

  • 1527 - Diocese of Tlaxcala
  • 1530 - Archdiocese of Mexico
  • 1535 - Diocese of Oaxaca
  • 1536 - Diocese of Michoacan
  • 1539 - Diocese of Chiapas
  • 1546 - Archdiocese of Mexico
  • 1548 - Diocese of Guadalajara
  • 1561 - Diocese of Yucatan
  • 1620 - Diocese of Durango
  • 1777 - Diocese of Monterrey
  • 1779 - Diocese of Sonora
  • 1845 - Diocese of Campeche
  • 1854 - Diocese of San Luis Potosi
  • 1862 - Diocese of Chilapa

  • 1862 - Diocese of Queretaro
  • 1863 - Archdiocese of Guadalajara
  • 1863 - Archdiocese of Michoacan
  • 1870 - Diocese of Veracruz
  • 1870 - Diocese of Tamaulipas
  • 1874 - Diocese of Tabasco
  • 1881 - Diocese of Tampico
  • 1891 - Archdiocese of Oaxaca
  • 1891 - Archdiocese of Durango
  • 1891 - Diocese of Chihuahua
  • 1899 - Diocese of Aguascaliente
  • 1903 - Diocese of Puebla
  • 1906 - Diocese of Yucatan

Common Record Types

The most commonly used records include:

In addition, records may include church censuses, account books, and other church-related records, see Mexico Catholic Church Other Ecclesiastical Records. Church records are crucial, since civil authorities did not begin registering vital statistics until after 1859. For civil vital records of births, deaths, and marriages after 1859, see the Mexico Civil Registration section.

Often two and sometimes three generations are indicated in the registers, with personal information on the family given.

Online Records

FamilySearch has many Catholic Church records collections for Mexico. Wiki articles describing some collections are found at:

Catholic Church Archives

An extensive and rich collection of Catholic Church records in Mexico exists beyond those of the parish. While parish records are recorded by individual parish priests, the role of bishops and archbishops is to oversee the work done at a parish level, including the maintaining of parish records. In addition their acrivities created records which are maintained at a diocesan level.

General records refer to documents that bishops or archbishops created by the bishop’s courts and administrative agencies within that diocese and preserved in diocesan or archdiocesan archives. Each archive begins with the date of the creation of the diocese and contains records of genealogical significance such as marriage dispensations, censuses, and communion lists. Although many of these records have been filmed, only a limited work—primarily limited to marriage dispensations—has been done to index or even inventory them. One notable exception is the Archivo Historico del Aquidioceses de Durango, which has been microfilmed and indexed by the Rio Grande Hustorical Society located at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. This index can be purchased http://lib.nmsu.edu/depts/archives/ahad.shtml at their website.

Other Records

Civil Records

After 1859, one should search in both church and civil records, since there may be information in one that does not appear in the other. For instance, the church records may only list the godparents, while the civil records may list the grandparents.

Unlike many other Latin American countries, Mexico has significant collections of other filmed records beyond parish and civil registration registers. Additionally, finding aids and, in some cases, public records or indexes exist to help locate and even directly consult these records. As discussed already, the first place to look for any type of record is the FamilySearch Catalog, as the LDS Church has microfilmed extensive collections of records in Mexico. Many records have been filmed by other libraries and universities, particularly for the colonial period. The best way to locate records filmed by the LDS Church is by doing a Place Search under the name of the town where the parish and/or municipio is located. Also search under the name of the state, as records beyond parish and civil registers are often identified as only a collection for the entire state and not subdivided, even if they do contain significant information about specific people within towns in the state.

In some cases records for the entire state have been catalogued under the name of the capital city because the archive containing those records is found there, so check under the name of the state’s capital city. Also check for the city that is the archdiocese for your ancestral hometown.

Other Churches

It was not until the late 19th century before other sects such as the Mennonites and other Protestant denominations began to establish themselves in Mexico. Their records are not easy to access. For more information about the various churches in Mexico, see the articles on Mexico Church History and Mexico History.


 

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  • This page was last modified on 13 August 2014, at 18:51.
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