Brazilian Research: Getting Started

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Getting started with your family history research isn't difficult at all. Just follow a simple 5-step Research Process:

Step 1: Identify what you know

To start your research first search family and home sources. Search for names as well as dates and places of important life events for your ancestors on varios records you have close to come: certificates, diaraies,  journals, obituaries, etc. Talk with living relatives to learn additional information they might have on your ancestors. You may have an aunt, grandparent, cousin, or other relative who has already gathered some family information. Organize your findings on pedigree charts and family group records. You can obtain blank pedigree charts and family group sheets here.

Step 2: Decide What You Want to Learn About Your Family

Select an specific ancestor from your pedigree chart or family group records for which you have some basic information and would like to learn more about. You may want to begin with an ancestor for whom you already know their name and surname as well as information about where and when they lived. Note that records for individuals are more easily accesible for individuals born before 1920, and may help in your selecion of an ancestor.

Once you have chosen a specific ancestor identify questions you want to answer about them. (Ex. Where was he/she born? Were was he/she married? Who were his/her parents?) Select one question at a time to help you focus your research. Prepare a research log to keep track of records you want to search and the additonal information you find.

Step 3: Select Records to Search

This step involves identifying the category of record you need to search in order to find out what you would like to know. This record category might be a compiled record, an original record, or a reference source. Identifying the specific record to be searched next, and describe it in your research log.

Below are some record types you may wish to begin to search :

  • Civil Registration: Civil registrations of births, marriages, and deaths of individuals became standardized by the 1880s in Brazil. For help with using and locating civil registration records for Brazil see Brazil Civil Registration.
  • Church Records: The Roman Catholic Church has long been an integral part of Brazilian society and culture. Most of your ancestors from Brazil were Catholic and were recorded in local church records called parish registers (registros paroquias). The catholic church recorded births, marriages, deaths, and burials in parish registers. Catholic parish records are some of the best in the world, stretching back hundreds of years to the earliest settlements of Brazil. For help with using and locating Catholic Church records for brazil see Brazil Church Records.
  • Land and Property: Brazilian Land grants, known as sesmarias, where available contain rich genealogical information for ancestors who owned land, often containing relationship details (names of spouse, children), dates, residences, petitions, etc. While the vast majority of people weren't land owners in Brazil, these records are a valuable source for ancestors who did own land. For help with using and locating Land and Property records for Brazil see Brazil Land and Property.
  • Notarial Records: Notarial records were records made out by a public notary. They include legal documents such as wills, codicils, land transactions, powers of attorney, contracts, dowry arrangements, bonds, mortgages, complaints, etc. Notarial records for Brazil date back to 1594. While they contain valuable genealogical information, they are more difficult to through, being organized chronologically by name of notary, without any indexes. For help with using nad locating notarial records for Brazil see Brazil Notarial Records.
  • Military Records: Ancestors who served in the military or militias in Brazil may have been recorded in military records. For further help in using and locating military records see Brazil Military Records.