Baja California, Mexico Genealogy

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Getting started with Baja California research

Welcome to the Baja California page! FamilySearch Wiki is a community website dedicated to helping people throughout the world learn how to find their ancestors. Through the Baja California page you can learn how to find, use, and analyze Baja California records of genealogical value. The content is variously targeted to beginners, intermediate, and expert researchers. Please visit the help page to learn more about using the site. The Baja California Page is a work in progress, your contributions and feedback are essential!


Most of your genealogical research for Baja California will be in two main record types: civil registration and church records. This article will teach you methods for locating and searching these two record groups.

Civil Registration

  • Civil registration records are government records covering birth, marriage, and death. They are an excellent source of names, dates, places, and relationships.
  • Civil authorities began registering births, marriages, and deaths in 1859, and most individuals who lived in Mexico after 1867 are recorded. Because the records cover such a large percentage of the population, they are extremely important sources for genealogical research in Mexico. Initially, the Mexican populace, accustomed to registering its vital events with the local parish church, opposed the register. It was not until the republic was restored in 1867 that civil registration was vigorously enforced.
  • You will need to know the town where your family lived and to which municipio the town belonged. This gazetteer will help you find the municipio level for your town.

1. Online Digital Records for Civil Registration

For many localities, digital copies of civil registration can be searched online:

"Nascimientos" are births. Matrimonios are marriages. "Defunciones" are deaths.

2. Microfilm Copies of Civil Registration Records Searched at a Family History Center

If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to find them in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. These microfilms may be viewed at Family History Centers around the world. To find a microfilm:

a. Click on this link to a see list of records for Mexico, Baja California.
b. Click on "Places within Mexico, Baja California" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Civil Registration" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm. Clicking on the microfilm reel will lead to information on how to rent the film. Family History Center staff will assist you in ordering the film.

3. Writing for Civil Registration Certificates

If the records are not online, and you do not have ready access to the microfilms, civil registration records in Mexico can be obtained by writing to the local civil registry in the municipality. This is particularly true for more recent records, which are covered by privacy laws. Relatives are allowed to request recent records for genealogy purposes. Civil officials will generally answer correspondence in Spanish. Your request may be forwarded if the records have been sent to state archives. This method is not always reliable. Officials might or might not respond.
Write a brief request in Spanish to the proper office using this address as a guide, replacing the information in parentheses:

Oficino del Registro Civil
(postal code), (city), Baja California
Mexico

Send the following:

  • Money for the search fee, usually $10.00, and an international reply coupon (IRC)
  • Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
  • Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
  • Approximate date and place of the event
  • Your relationship to the ancestor
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record


Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases is this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.

Church Records

Although civil registration records are an important source for genealogical research in Mexico, many births, marriages, and deaths were never recorded by civil authorities; therefore, you must use church records to supplement this genealogical source.

The vast majority of Mexicans were Catholic and were registered in entries for baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials in the local church records. Often two and sometimes three generations are indicated in the registers, with personal information on the family. Church records are the main source prior to 1850, when civil registration began. After this date one should search in both church and civil records, since there may be information in one record 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.

1. Online Digital Records for Church Records

For some localities, digital copies of Catholic church records can be searched online:

Batismos are infant baptisms, which are used for birth information. Matrimônios' are marriages. "Óbitos" are deaths. "Índice" is the index.

2. Microfilm Copies of Church Records Searched at a Family History Center

If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to find them in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. These microfilms may be viewed at Family History Centers around the world. To find a microfilm:

a. Click on this link to a see list of records for Mexico, Baja California.
b. Click on "Places within Mexico, Baja California" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Church Records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm. Clicking on the microfilm reel will lead to information on how to rent the film. Family History Center staff will assist you in ordering the film.

3. Writing to a Catholic Priest for Church Records

Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting or visiting local parish or diocese archives in Mexico. Mexico has no single repository of church records. Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. This method is not always reliable. Officials might or might not respond.

Write a brief request in Spaniah to the proper church using this address as guide replacing the information in parentheses:

Reverendo Padre
Parroquia de (name of parish)
(postal code), (city), Baja California
Mexico


When requesting information, send the following:

  • Money for the search fee, usually $10.00, and an international reply coupon (IRC)
  • Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
  • Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
  • Approximate date and place of the event
  • Your relationship to the ancestor
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record


Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases is this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.]

Reading the Records

  • Online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:

Tips for finding your ancestor in the records

  • Births were usually reported within a few days of the birth by the father of the child, a neighbor, or the midwife. A search for a birth record should begin with the known date of birth and then searching forward in time, day by day, until the record is found. It might be found within a few days of the actual birth date, but in some instances, it might be weeks or months later. Birth, marriage, and death records are often indexed by given name or surname.


  • The Catholic Church continued keeping records after the creation of the civil registration in 1859. Therefore two types of records are available for the marriages. Be sure to search both records. With the separation of church and state in Mexico, formalized by the 1917 constitution, civil authorities determined that for couples to be legally married they had to be married by the state. Because of the close affinity of the Catholic Church and the state authorities, this rule was not always followed, and church weddings were accepted by the state. Normally, however, couples were married by civil authorities prior to a church wedding. On rare occasions they were married civilly after a church wedding.


  • Some municipios are small and therefore only have one civil registration office, but there are other larger municipios that have several sub civil registration offices that report to the main municipio office. These sub civil registration offices are all listed under the municipio seat. For example, in Sonora the municipio of Cajeme covers a large geographical area and has had ten sub civil registration offices at different times. These offices have been or are now in the following cities: two in the city of Ciudad Obregón and one each in Cumuripa, Esperanza, Cocorit, Providencia, Pueblo Yaqui, El Realito, Oviachic, and Buenavista. All of these offices are listed under Cajeme, with a "see" reference indicated by an arrow from the sub-civil registration office to Cajeme. A person looking for civil registration for Cocorit will be referred to Cajeme by the "see" reference or arrow. However, other records such as church records or censuses, will still be listed under Cocorit. Hence, to search all the records the library has for Cocorit you will need to search under two listings: Cajeme for civil registration, because Cocorit civil registration records are listed under Cajeme, and Cocorit for church records because the church records are listed under Cocorit.


  • Death records can be particularly helpful for people who may not have had a civil birth or marriage record but died during the period when civil registration had begun.


  • The British government also kept civil registration records for British citizens living in Mexico from 1827 to 1926. These records can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog under:
MEXICO, DISTRITO FEDERAL, CIUDAD DE MEXICO - CIVIL REGISTRATION


Research Tools

  • (helpful tools and resources, gazetteers)
  • (language dictionary, handwriting guide or tutorial, etc.)

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

Mexico, State of Baja California and Baja California Sur Civil Registration (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Help Wanted

In order to make this wiki a better research tool, we need your help! Many tasks need to be done. You can help by:


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