Tracing Your Mexican Heritage
Today is Cinco de Mayo, a holiday primarily observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and culture. We thought it would be interesting to take a look at some useful resources when tracing your Mexican ancestry.
Talk to your relatives
The best way to begin your search is by first asking your family questions. Find out as much as you can about the names and relationships of your ancestors, birth/death dates, where they lived, and what church they may have frequented. Gather as many pictures and any documents or journals/letters too. Immigration and naturalization records will be a great step in finding out where your ancestor came from. Knowing the location (town or municipio) of your ancestors will be most helpful to discovering where you need to look for documented records in Mexico.
The Catholic Church was the primary record keeper in Mexico before the implementation of civil records. Baptismal records can reveal the names of your ancestor’s parents, grandparents, godparents and other relatives and witnesses. You may even find the birth date, baptismal date and possibly their location of birth.
The Church may also hold death and burial records. You may be able to find information about the date/place of death, date/place of burial, name of their spouse, parents and possibly children. These records may even contain their will which can lead you to other relatives and heirs.
Marriage information records may contain great genealogical details. If a couple wished to marry, the Catholic Church conducted interviews to ensure the couple was in good standing with the Church. These records usually contain vital information such as the names of the couple, their parents’ names, possibly their place of birth and whether they had been married previously. If they had, you may find the name of the former spouse. The Church may also have testimonials from interviews conducted with witnesses on the couple’s behalf. Lastly, you may find a note of the couple’s marriage date.
If you discover that your ancestor belonged to a fraternal organization, you may be able to find them in the Church’s archives.
Beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, Mexico began keeping civil records of births, marriages, and deaths of its population. These records can be used to supplement church records. You may also find census records conducted by the state or town.
Online resources are a great place to begin your search for documents. Family Search and MyHeritage hold a large number of church and civil records from Mexico. Church records may date as far back as the 16th century. If you are unable to find documents online, you may also try contacting local parishes or civic archives directly.
And don’t forget to add any documents you may find to your ancestors’ Geni profiles to share with others!