Central America, Colonial Census Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Access the records: Central America, Colonial Records,1607-1902 .
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Title in the Language of the Record

Censos Coloniales de América Central

What is in the Collection?

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This collection includes records from 1607 to 1902.

This is a collection of various censuses of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico. The earlier censuses are handwritten in Spanish in narrative style; later censuses are written on formatted ledger-style forms.

According to the “Instituto Nacional de Identificación” (National Institute of Identification), the only relevant statistical activity in the colonial period was the population censuses carried out in the province of Guatemala by the Catholic Church ecclesiastical authorities, which began in the early 1500s. Some of these colonial censuses are actually membership records. These records are housed at the Archivo Histórico Arquidiocesano (Historical Archive of the Archdiocese of Guatemala) and have great importance in the historical reconstruction of the social, economic, and cultural process of Guatemala and the Central American region of the colonial period. Some of these earlier records are quite damaged and therefore, some information is missing.

The census was regularly taken by authorized citizens. They collected the information given to them from a member of the household, who may not have known the exact data. It is recommended to use the census information with caution as there may be some mistakes. However, the information gathered will help to find other information not found in vital records. The authorities’ mission for the census was that the statistics gathered would effectively contribute to the development and democracy of Guatemala.

It wasn’t until the beginning of Guatemala’s independence in 1821 that civil authorities began keeping statistical records of the country’s population.

These records are written in Spanish.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Central America, Colonial Records, 1607-1902.

Collection Content

Sample Images

Census records usually contain the following information:

  • House number, street, square and parish where family lived
  • Head of household
  • Names of person living in household
  • Marital or civil status
  • Age at time of census
  • Religion
  • Profession or occupation
  • Origin
  • Number of adult males and females
  • Number of male and female children
  • Literacy
  • Properties
  • Designation for white, Indian, native, or mixed race

The census is divided by municipalities or cantons.

How Do I Search the Collection?

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

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

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.

Use this collection of records to find clues about the data needed to further research an ancestor in the vital records, such as civil registration or church records.

For Help Reading These Records

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

Other Searches

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Don't overlook FHL Place Central America items or FHL Keyword Central America items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog.

Known Issues with This Collection

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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 support@familysearch.org. 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.

Related Wiki Articles

Citing this Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information (often 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:

"Central America, Colonial Records, 1607-1902." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Central American General Archives, Guatemala City.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

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.


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 Central America, Colonial Records, 1607-1902.