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Need to Know History
Effective family research requires some understanding of the historical events that may have affected your family and the records about them. Learning about wars, governments, laws, migrations, and religious trends may help you understand political boundaries, family movements, and settlement patterns. These events may have led to the creation of records such as land and military documents that mention your family.
Your ancestors will become more interesting to you if you also use histories to learn about the events in which they may have participated. For example, by using a history you might learn about the events that occurred in the year your great-grandparents were married.
Some key dates and events in Mexico’s history are as follows:
1519: Cortes sails from Havana and lands in Mexico.
1520–1521: Montezuma dies and Cortes lays siege to Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire.
1524: Consejo (council) de las Indias established by the King of Spain. Arrival of the Franciscan friars.
1527: Bishopric of Mexico created.
1535: Viceroyalty of New Spain established.
1571: Tribunal of the Inquisition formally established in the City of Mexico.
1691: Conquest of Texas.
1767: Jesuits expelled from Spanish America.
1808: Napoleon Bonaparte intervenes in Spanish affairs. Revolution in Spain. The idea of Mexican independence germinates.
1810: Parish Priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla sounds the "Grito de Dolores," which begins the fight for independence.
1813–1814: First Mexican Congress meets to declare a "Formal Declaration of Mexican Independence". First constitution at Apatzingan.
1820: Inquisition suppressed.
1821: Independence won.
1823: Chiapas incorporated into Mexico.
1824: Federal Constitution proclaimed. Estados Unidos Mexicanos organized.
1825: Spain’s power in Mexico ends.
1835–1836: Texas rebellion.
1845: Texas annexed to United States.
1846–1848: War between Mexico and United States. Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed.
1859: Benito Juarez proclaims the Reform Laws.
1861: French invasion begins, with support of Mexican conservatives.
1864: Maximilian reaches Mexico and becomes its Emperor.
1867: French troops withdraw from Mexico.
1877–1911: Porfirio Dias Era.
1906: Great influx of foreigners and foreign capital.
1910–1920: Revolutionary period, when many immigrated to the United States, which sets up border patrols. The U.S. Department of State warns all Americans to withdraw from Mexico. Relations between United States and Mexico strained due to conflict over control of oil industry.
1938: Expropriation of foreign oil companies.
- The History Channel’s history of Mexico
- The History Channel’s Mexico timeline
- Una línea de tiempo interactive
- “Mexico: It’s Ancient and Modern Civilisation, History, and Political Conditions” etc., a Google eBook, published in 1909
- “Young Folks’ History of Mexico,” a Google eBook, published in 1895
- “Historia Elemental de México,” a Google eBook, published in 1883
Family History Library
The Family History Library has many published national, regional, state, municipio, and local histories for Mexico. You can find histories in the FamilySearch Catalog under one of the following:
LATIN AMERICA- HISTORY
MEXICO, [STATE] - HISTORY
MEXICO, [STATE], [CITY]- HISTORY
The following are only a few of the many historical sources on Mexico that are available. Books with film numbers can be ordered through local Family History Centers, and some may be found in major research libraries.
León-Portilla, Miguel. Diccionario Porrúa de Historia, Biografía y Geografía de México (Porrua’s Dictionary of History, Biography, and Geography of Mexico). México, D.F.: Edit. Porrúa, 1995. (FHL 972 E5d 1995.)
Hoyo, Eugenio del. Historia del Nuevo Reino de León (1571–1723) (History of the New Kingdom of León [1571–1723]). México, D.F.: Ediciones Al Voleo, 1979. 2nd Ed. (FHL 972.13 H2hh.)
The Family History Library has some local histories for towns in Mexico. Similar histories are also often available at major public and university libraries and archives.
Bibliographies that list local histories are available for some regions, states, and municipios of Mexico. These bibliographies are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under:
MEXICO, [STATE]- BIBLIOGRAPHY
MEXICO- HISTORY- BIBLIOGRAPHY
MEXICO, [STATE]- HISTORY- BIBLIOGRAPHY
Each villa, town, and city has had its own historical chronologist from as early as the conquest and colonial days to the present time. Chronologists are the official historians for the community and are obligated to record its important events. It is wise to visit with the chronologists since they are familiar with the records of the area and can be very helpful.
Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. They describe the settlement of the area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of early settlers and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating the ancestor. A local history may give ideas or suggest other records to search.
Published histories of towns, municipios, and states may contain some histories of families. Some municipio and town histories include separate sections containing biographical information.
In addition, local histories should be studied and enjoyed for the background information they can provide about your family’s way of life and the community and environment in which your family lived.
The Gregorian calendar is the calendar most often used in the world today. It is a correction of the Julian calendar, which had been used since a.d. 46. Leap years had been miscalculated in the Julian calendar, so by 1582 the calendar was 10 days behind the solar year. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bill, modifying the calendar to correct the problem. He declared that the day following the fourth of October that year would become the fifteenth of October. Other adjustments were made in the calendar to prevent future leap-year miscalculations.
Spain adopted the new system in 1582, and the Spanish territories in the New World rapidly followed Spain’s example. The Gregorian calendar was adopted in the viceroyalty of Mexico in 1583.
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