Puerto Rico, Civil Registration (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Puerto Rico, Civil Registration, 1836-2001 .
- 1 Title in the Language of the Records
- 2 Record Description
- 3 Record Content
- 4 How to Use the Record
- 5 Known Issues with This Collection
- 6 Related Web Sites
- 7 Related Wiki Articles
- 8 Contributions to This Article
- 9 Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
Title in the Language of the Records
Registro Civil y Demográfico de Puerto Rico
This collection contains civil records from 1836 to 2001. More specifically:
- Birth records include the years 1836 to 1931
- Marriage records include the years 1836 to 1951
- Death records include the years 1836 to 2001
The older records are handwritten in narrative style, and the newer ones are handwritten in formatted records. All the records are written in Spanish.
For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse.
The civil registration in Puerto Rico began to be implemented in early 1885. Before this time, the vital information of a person was registered in the Catholic Church parish records, which at that time had the official authority to justify the civil status of the citizens. At the beginning of the civil registration, the civil registries were maintained by the municipal courts. In 1904, the civil registries were transferred to the office of the municipal secretary. In 1931, the current civil code was approved. This code gave the organization a new name, the Demographic Registry Office of Puerto Rico (Registro Demográfico de Puerto Rico), and transferred the authority to the Health Department. Most records, with the exception of a few earlier records, have been preserved relatively for extracting genealogical information. The whole population of Puerto Rico living since 1885 is registered in these records. Many types of civil records are found in the Demographic Registries; however, this article describes only birth, marriage, and death records.
The Demographic Registry’s basic function and responsibility is to preserve all the vital data of the citizens of Puerto Rico, such as the registration of births, marriages, and deaths. The registry provides certified copies of all documents; makes legal corrections of errors, legal changes, and administrative changes; and recaps all the statistical information for the Health Department.
The civil registration of Puerto Rico is a very reliable source for doing family history. In order to register an event, the person registering the event needs to provide various legal proofs of identification. The registry also allows 10 days to register a birth free of charge. After that, the person needs to pay a fee. This promotes the registration of all citizens in a timely manner.
The civil registration records in Puerto Rico are an excellent source for genealogical research after 1885. Important genealogical data can be found in these records, such as dates, marital status, places of events, names, and other personal data about individuals and other family members. The data may help to fill in information about even an earlier generation.
Birth records usually contain the following information:
- Date, time and place of birth
- Child's name and gender
- Legitimacy of child
- Parents' names and age
- Parents' marital status, occupation, residence, and origin
- Names of paternal grandparents
- Names of maternal grandparents
- Date and place of registration
Marriage records may contain the following information:
- Date and place of marriage
- Name and age of groom
- Groom's marital status, occupation, residence, and origin
- Name and age of bride
- Bride's marital status, occupation, residence, and origin
- Names of parents
- Name of person giving consent (usually bride's father)
- Names of witnesses
Death records may contain the following information:
- Name and age of deceased (keep in mind that death records for women may be filed under their married name)
- Marital status, residence, and origin of deceased
- Date and place of death
- Date and place of medical certificate
- Name of informant and their relationship to deceased
- Informant's age, marital status, occupation, residence, and origin
- Names of parents and their origin
- Names of grandparents, if known
- Date and place of burial
How to Use the Record
To begin your search you should know the following:
- The person’s name
- The approximate location of an event
Keep in mind:
- There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
- You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
- Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.
- The information in records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
Search the Collection
To search the collection using the index:
- 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.
To browse the collection, follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "Municipality" category
⇒Select the "Record Type and Year Range" category which takes you to the images.
Look at the images and compare the information with what you already know about your ancestor to determine which one is your ancestor. Regarding birth records, sometimes a child was named but died very young, and the parents would give the same name to the next child born of the same gender. Regarding marriage and death records, name changes, shortened names, or nicknames may have been used by your ancestors, so pay attention to the other relationships (parents, spouse, siblings, children).
Unable to Find your Ancestor?
Church records are also a good substitute when birth, marriage, and death records can’t be found or are unavailable.
Using the Information
- Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
- Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
- Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
- Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
- Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- The name of a marriage officiator is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county. However, ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties.
- Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
- Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married 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.
- Use the marital status/marriage number (how many times a person was married) to identify previous marriages.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
For Help Reading These Records
These records are in Spanish. For help reading the records, see the following wiki articles:
Known Issues with This Collection
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 Web Sites
- Puerto Rico GenWeb
- Puerto Rico Birth, Death, Marriage Certificates
- Vital records in Puerto Rico
- Research Outline for Puerto Rico
- Puerto Rican Hispanic Genealogical Society
- PRROOTS.com – Hispanic Genealogical Society
- Puerto Rican Ancestors in Spanish and American Military Records
Related Wiki Articles
Contributions to This Article
| 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 FamilySearch Historical Collections
Citations for individual image records are available for this collection. Browse through images in this collection and click on the "Show Citation" box: Puerto Rico, Civil Registration, 1836-2001
When you copy information from a record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- "Puerto Rico, Civil Registration, 1836-2001" Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013.