Mexico, Baja California and Baja California Sur, Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Foreign Language Title
Registros Parroquiales de la Iglesia Católica en el Estado de Baja California y en el Estado de Baja California Sur, México.
Collection Time Period
This collection covers church records from parishes in Baja California and Baja California Sur or years 1750 to 1983.
After the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards, Catholic priests began going from one place to another baptizing most of the population. By order of the Queen of Spain, priests began keeping a record of all the sacramental ordinances performed. The registers hold records of baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials and other ecclesiastical documents. Most often, the different types of ordinances are recorded separate volumes. Each record is written in narrative style, and in more recent years, they are handwritten in formatted records. The registers were created and kept by the priest. Later, as the church grew in numbers, the registers were kept at the parish and a copy was sent to the diocesan archive for preservation.
Catholic priests established parishes starting in 1521. In 1527, the Roman Catholic Church established dioceses in Tlaxcala and Mexico City. It was only in the late 19th century that other religious groups began establishing congregations in Mexico.
Parishes were local congregations that may have included smaller villages within their boundaries. A large city may contain several parishes. The parishes had jurisdiction over both vice parishes (vice parroquias) and chapelries (feligresias). Multiple parishes (parroquias) were under the jurisdiction of a diocese. The highest level of local government in the Catholic Church is the archdiocese (arquidiócesis), which is made up of several dioceses.
In 1995, the Catholic Church in Mexico had 14 archdioceses; 58 dioceses; 5,345 parishes; and 1,611 chapelries (sub-parishes). Together they hold a great number of records.Parish registers were kept by the priest at the parish level. Parishes were local congregations that may have included smaller villages within their boundaries. A large city may have contained several parishes. The parishes had jurisdiction over both vice parishes (vice parroquias) and chapelries (capillar foraneas). Multiple parishes (parroquias) were under the jurisdiction of a diocese. The highest level of government in the Catholic Church was the archdiocese (arquidiócesis), which was made up of several dioceses. In 1995 the Catholic Church in Mexico had 14 archdioceses; 58 dioceses; 5,345 parishes; and 1,611 chapelries (subparishes). This collection covers the Catholic Church population living in parishes in the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. The majority of the population of these two states was Roman Catholic, and entries for them are found in parish registers. Only in the late 19th century did other religious groups begin to be established in the area.
Why the Record Was Created
Mexican Catholic parish registers were created by authorized Catholic priests to record the church sacraments of baptism (bautismo), confirmation (confirmación), marriage (casamiento o matrimonio), and burial (defunción o entierro) at the parish level.
Catholic Church parish registers are the primary source for birth, death, and marriage records in Mexico prior to 1859. After 1859, parish records can be used as another source complimenting information found in civil registers.
Separate books were kept for baptisms, confirmations, marriage information documents, marriages, and burials. However, in smaller areas, all records may be recorded on one register. In larger parishes a separate book was usually maintained for confirmations, while in smaller parishes the confirmations may have been included with the baptisms. Similarly, marriage information documents may have been included with marriages. In larger parishes, most of the marriage banns (informaciones matrimoniales) may be registered separately. In smaller parishes, these records were included in the marriage entry. In smaller parishes, the confirmations may have been included with the baptisms or even with marriages. In larger parishes, a separate book of confirmations was usually maintained.
The records are in relatively fair condition, with the exception of some older records that may be damaged, and therefore hard to read or missing some information. Most of the older records are handwritten in narrative style and follow a common text with some variations depending on the style used by the priest. Newer records are handwritten in formatted registers, and some are even written in ledger style registers.
The entries were normally made in chronological order. Confirmations were not consistently recorded.
Record ContentThrough the years the information found in Mexican Catholic parish registers may vary; however, the most common genealogical information found are:
- Date of baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial
- Event place is the parish unless noted otherwise
- Name of the person being baptized, confirmed, married, or buried and sometimes the names of the parents, spouse, and other relatives
- Age of the person being baptized, confirmed, married, or buried
- Sex of the participants except for witnesses (sex can be inferred from the given name
- Place of residence of the family, marriage partners, or the deceased
- Legitimacy of the child in baptismal entries
- Social class of the parents in baptismal entries prior to 1820
- Marital status of the individuals
The key genealogical facts found in most baptism records are:
- Date of baptism
- Place of the event and usually the parish saint name
- Name of the person being baptized
- Names of the parents
- Age of the person being baptized or the person’s birth date
- Before 1820, social class of the parents
- Sometimes the person’s race
The key genealogical facts found in most marriage records are:
- Date of marriage
- Place of the event and usually the parish saint name
- Names of the betrothed
- Names of the parents
- Names of the witnesses
- Ages and marital statuses of the betrothed
- Places of origin and residence of the betrothed and sometimes that of the parents
- Legitimacy of the betrothed
- Sometimes the race of the betrothed
The key genealogical facts found in most burial or death records are:
- Date of death or burial
- Place of burial or death
- Name of the deceased person
- Sometimes the names of the parents or the spouse, if the deceased was married
- Age of the deceased person at time of death
- Place of residence or origin of the deceased person
- Sometimes the race of the deceased
How to Use the Record
Parish registers are the best, and often the only, Mexican records that identify individuals, parents, and spouses before 1859. After this date, civil authorities began registering vital statistics (nacimientos, matrimonies, y defunciones) that by law include people of all religions; these records become equally important as the parish registers. The information in civil sources confirms and supplements the information in church records. For instance, the parish registers may list the godparents while the civil records may list the grandparents. Be sure to search both the parish and civil records after 1860, since some families did not consistently register their children with either of them.
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Related Wiki Articles
- Mexico, Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Mexico Church Records
- Mexico Church History
Sources of This Collection
"Mexico, Baja California and Baja California Sur Catholic Church Records," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org); from Vicariato Apostólico de la Paz and Diócesis de Tijuana. Registros parroquiales, 1750-1983. Original records also housed in local parish archives in both states. FHL 22 microfilm reels. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Digital copies of originals are also housed in various local repository archives throughout Baja California and Baja California Sur, Mexico.
The suggested format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections is found in the following article: How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections.
Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection
- United States. Bureau of the Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: September 29, 2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71.
- Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933, digital images, from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Fernandez Jimenez, 1 Feb. 1910, San Pedro Apóstol, Cuahimalpa, Distrito Federal, Mexico, film number 0227023.