Central America, Colonial Census Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Title in the Language of the Record
Guatemala, Censos Coloniales de Centro América
This collection includes records from 1607 to 1902.
This is a collection of various censuses of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico. The earlier censuses are handwritten in Spanish in narrative style; later censuses are written on formatted ledger-style forms.
According to the “Instituto Nacional de Identificación” (National Institute of Identification), the only relevant statistical activity in the colonial period was the population censuses carried out in the province of Guatemala by the Catholic Church ecclesiastical authorities, which began in the early 1500s. Some of these colonial censuses are actually membership records. These records are housed at the Archivo Histórico Arquidiocesano (Historical Archive of the Archdiocese of Guatemala) and have great importance in the historical reconstruction of the social, economic, and cultural process of Guatemala and the Central American region of the colonial period. Some of these earlier records are quite damaged and therefore, some information is missing.
The census was regularly taken by authorized citizens. They collected the information given to them from a member of the household, who may not have known the exact data. It is recommended to use the census information with caution as there may be some mistakes. However, the information gathered will help to find other information not found in vital records. The authorities’ mission for the census was that the statistics gathered would effectively contribute to the development and democracy of Guatemala.
It wasn’t until the beginning of Guatemala’s independence in 1821 that civil authorities began keeping statistical records of the country’s population.
For a list of records by date or locality currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
Citation for This Collection:
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- "Central America, Colonial Records." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Direccion General de Estadisticas. Archivo General de Centro América, Guatemala City.
Records usually contain the following information:
- House number, street, square and parish where family lived
- Head of household
- Names of person living in household
- Marital or civil status
- Age at time of census
- Profession or occupation
- Number of adult males and females
- Number of male and female children
- Designation for white, Indian, native, or mixed race
The census is divided by municipalities or cantons.
How to Use the Record
To browse this collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "Country"s
⇒ Select the "Province"
⇒ Select the "City or Town"
⇒ Select the "Record Type and Years" which takes you to the images.
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
Use this collection of records to find clues about the data needed to further research an ancestor in the vital records, such as civil registration or church records.
For Help Reading These Records
These records are in Spanish. For help reading the records, see the following wiki articles:
Known Issues with This Collection
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Contributions to This Article
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Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"Central America, Colonial Census Records," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearach.org; accessed 9 May 2012), Guatemala > Chiquimula > San Esteban > 1821-Padrones > Image 40 of 195 images, Guadalupe Gomes; citing Census Records, FHL microfilm 748,133 Item 2, Padrones de Guatemala : La Gomera, ladinos, Archivo General de Centro América, Guatemala.