Panama Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Panama, Catholic Church Records, 1707-1973 .
This article describes a collection of records at
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Flag of the Republic of Panama
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Location of Panama
Record Description
Record Type: Church
Collection years: 1707-1973
Language: Spanish
Title in the Language: Registros parroquiales de la Iglesia Católica de Panamá
Related Websites

What is in the Collection?

This collection of the Catholic Church records for Panama covers the years 1707 to 1973.

Entries were normally made in chronological order. In larger parishes, these records may be registered separately. 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; some are even written in ledger style registers.

Catholic Church records begun to be recorded with the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century; towns were colonized and evangelized at the same time, beginning in 1513. When the records in this collection were created, Panama already had created the first cathedral named Santa Maria Cathedral, now Santa Maria la Antigua. The first diocese of Panama was a suffrage of the Archdiocese of Seville, Spain, until 1548, then became suffrage of the Archdiocese of Lima, Peru, until 1835, when it became suffrage of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe of Bogota, Colombia, and in 1901 suffrage of the Archdiocese of Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. Finally, in 1925 the Diocese of Panama was elevated to Archdiocese. All records created in church parishes were kept by priest and a copy sent to the diocese and later to the archdiocese.

By order of the Queen of Spain, authorized priests began keeping a record of all the sacramental ordinances performed at the parish level, such as baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials in order to record important events in the life of their parishioners.

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 Panama prior to 1914, when the civil registration was created. Catholic Church parish records after 1914 can be used to complement information found in civil registers.

These records are written in Spanish.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Panama, Catholic Church Records, 1707-1973.

Collection Content

Baptism or confirmation records usually contain the following information:
  • Name and gender of child
  • Date and place of baptism or confirmation
  • Child's birth date
  • Names of the parents
  • Names of godparents
  • Before 1820, social class of the parents
  • Sometimes the person’s race
Marriage records usually contain the following information:
  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Groom's age, civil status and origin
  • Names of groom's parents
  • Bride's age, civil status and origin
  • Names of bride's parents
  • Sometimes, the legitimacy of betrothed
  • Sometimes, the race of the betrothed
  • Names of the witnesses
  • Name of officiant at wedding
Death or burial records usually contain the following information:
  • Date and place of death or burial
  • Name of the deceased person
  • Age and civil status of deceased
  • Sometimes, the name of spouse, if deceased was married
  • Sometimes, the names of parents
  • Place of residence or origin of the deceased person
  • Sometimes, the race of the deceased

How Do I Search the Collection?

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page: Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page
⇒ Select the "Province" category
⇒ Select the "City or Town" category
⇒ Select the "Parish" category
⇒ Select the "Record Type and Years" category which takes you to the images

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

When searching:
As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

For Help Reading These Records

These records are in Spanish. For help reading the records, see the following resources:

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

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Don't overlook FHL Place Panama items or FHL Keyword Panama items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see Panama Archives and Libraries.

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

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:

"Panama, Catholic Church Records, 1707-1973." Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2016. Citing Registros de la Iglesia Catolica, Panama (Catholic Church parishes, Panama).

Record citation:

The citation for a record will be available with each record once the collection is published.

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 Panama, Catholic Church Records, 1707-1973.