Quetzaltenango Department, Guatemala Genealogy

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Central America Gotoarrow.png Guatemala

Quetzaltenango (Xelajú or familial Xela) is a "department" in the western highlands of Guatemala. It is named in part for the Quetzal bird, a national symbol of the nation. The chief city is Quetzaltenango for many years the second largest city of Guatemala. Some records of importance to genealogists are located here, while many others for the area are stored in Guatemala City.

Civil Registration and Church Records

Most of the research you will do will be in these two records.


Additional online records may be listed in the Family History Library Catalog for places within Guatemala, Quetzaltenango.

Reading the Records

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


Detailed instructions for reading Spanish records, examples of common documents, and practice exercises for developing skills in translating them can be found in the Spanish Records Extraction Manual.



Building a Family Record with a Search Strategy

Many articles on strategy are available on the Wiki, but here is a simple set of steps to guide you

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth/baptism/christening record, then search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents, and even the names of their parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.