El Salvador Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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El Salvador

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El Salvador, Catholic Church Records, 1655-1977 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
El Salvador
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Flag of the Republic of E; Salvador
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Record Description
Record Type: Church
Collection years: 1655-1977
Languages: Spanish
Title in the Language: El Salvador, Registros Parroquiales de la Iglesia Católica
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What is in the Collection?

This collection of church records for El Salvador includes the years 1655 to 1977.

This collection of Catholic Church records covers parishes throughout El Salvador. For a complete list of all the parishes contained in this collection, see the Parishes of El Salvador coverage table. The collection has baptism, marriage and burial records. The entries were normally made in chronological order. Some confirmations may be found within the baptism records. Some pre-marriage investigations and marriage dispensation may be found within the marriage records.

Earlier parish records were all handwritten in narrative form; later records were handwritten in formatted entries. All the records are written in Spanish.

In 1563, the Council of Trent formalized record-keeping practices already being followed in much of the Catholic world. Separate record books were to be maintained for baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and deaths or burials, and the format was standardized. However, in smaller areas all records may be recorded on one register. Following this format, the Catholic Church was the primary record keeper until the civil registration started in 1859. A large percentage, if not all, of the population of El Salvador is listed in these records. The entries were normally made in chronological order.

Catholic Church parish registers are a reliable source of information for family history research and the primary source for baptism, marriage, and death records in El Salvador prior to 1859. Catholic Church parish records after 1859 can be used to complement information found in civil registers.

Reading These Records

These records are written in Spanish; also see the section For Help Reading These Records for translation helps.

To Browse this collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for El Salvador, Catholic Church Records, 1655-1977.

What Can these Records Tell Me?

The following information is usually found in these records:

Baptismal records Marriage records Death records
Baptism date and place Date and place of the marriage Date and place of death
Name of child baptized Name of bride and groom Name and age of deceased
Birth date and place Groom’s age, civil status and residence Sometimes birth date, birth place and marital status of deceased
Names of parents Groom’s parents’ names Cause of death
Names of godparents Bride's age, civil status, origin and residence Parents’ names of deceased
Bride’s parents’ names Burial date and place (sometimes)
Witnesses’ names, age, civil status, occupation, origin and residence

Collection Contents

Sample Images

How Do I Search the Collection?

Before using this collection it is helpful to know:

  • Your ancestor's given name and surname
  • Identifying information such as residence
  • Estimated marriage or birth year
  • Family relationships

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.

  1. Select Department
  2. Select City or Town
  3. Select Parish
  4. Select Record Type and Years to view the images.

For more tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

For Help Reading These Records

For help reading these Spanish records, see the following resources:

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found Who I was Looking for, Now What?

  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate other church records.
  • Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • Compile information for every person who has the same surname as your ancestor; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.

What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?

  • Check for variants of given names, surnames, and place names. Transcription errors could occur in any handwritten record; also, it was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname or an abbreviation of their name.
  • Civil registration records are also a good source of genealogical information. You should obtain copies of both church records and civil registration, when possible, since they do not necessarily provide the same information. For example, baptismal registers sometimes provide the names of the fathers of illegitimate children when the civil registration does not.
  • There may be more than one person with the same name.
  • You ancestor may be using a nickname or alias.
  • A boundary change could have occurred and the record of your ancestor is now in a neighboring area. Search the records and indexes of neighboring cities, provinces, and regions.
  • Your ancestor may have immigrated to another country. Search the records of nearby countries or immigration/emigration records.

Citing This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"El Salvador, Catholic Church Records, 1655-1977." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Juayua Sonsonate El Salvador parroquia de Santa Lucia Diocesis de Sonsonate (San Salvador Archdiocese Archives, San Salvador).

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for El Salvador, Catholic Church Records, 1655-1977.

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