Recently people in the United States and in many other countries celebrated Columbus Day, October 12, marking his arrival in the New World. Did you know that you can find documents related to his voyage on the Spanish archive site PARES? Along with Columbus’ voyage to the New World many Hispanics may also be able to find records of their ancestor’s passage to the New World as well.
PARES, or the Portal de Archivos Españoles, is a wonderful site set up by the Spanish government that makes it easier to locate records to aid in the search for immigrants from Spain. Their online catalog has descriptions of the holdings of many Spanish state archives. The goal of PARES, as stated in a short video produced by the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte (Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports) who sponsors the site, is to facilitate maximum access to the patrimonial documentation found in the state archives of Spain. These archives include many items of interest to Hispanics whose ancestors came to the New World. Records for ancestors who came to the new world during the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries might be found in the Catalog of Pasajeros a Indias (Passengers to the Indies).
Another database that has been added in recent years is the Portal de Movimientos Migratorios Iberoamericanos (The Portal of Migratory Movements of Spanish-Americans). This database uses records from Spanish archives as well as those from various countries in Latin America to track the movements of Spanish citizens primarily during the 19th and 20th centuries. It is a work in progress in which more and more records are being added all the time.
Note: Most Spaniards and other natives of Latin America consider all of Central America, South America and North America as “America.”
Other thematic collections include:
- Bicentennial Independence of Spanish-Americans – Portal del Bicentenario de las Independencias Iberoamericanas
- Victims of the Spanish Civil war – Portal de Víctimas de la Guerra Civil
- Catalog of Maps, plans, and drawings in state archives – Catálogo de Mapas, Planos y Dibujos en los Archivos Estatales
- Spanish war of Independence – Guerra de la Independencia
- Photographic Archive of Propaganda Posters from Madrid during the Spanish Civil War – Archivo Fotográfico de la Delegación de Propaganda de Madrid durante la Guerra Civil
- Cadastre of Ensenada – Catastro de Ensenada
For more information on other resources, click on the tab Recursos. This is where you can find the Censo-Guia de Archivos a listing of archives of all types and jurisdictions for Spain and many other Hispanic countries.
To see what’s been updated, digitized or is partially digitized click on the tab Inventario Dinámico (Dynamic Inventory) and then select the archive you wish to see from the drop down menu. On this page you can also see what’s been added to the site in the last 30 days. Many records have been digitized. For further instructions on how to search the PARES site please see the article PARES: How to do a simple search. Using the Advanced search option, one can apply filters to searches by indexes, archives, or by signature (call number).
While a few of the collections have some language options, the primary language of the site is Spanish. You may want to use a website translation aid such as Google Chrome to help you understand what you are seeing.
Just for fun you may want to try a search for Cristobal Colon – Christopher Columbus’ Spanish name and see what comes up. Remember that the Archive of the Indies or the Archivo General de Indias is where you’ll find a treasure trove of information about Spaniards who came to the New World.