Finding Mexican Ancestors: Two Success Stories

January 25, 2018  - by 
How to find success in your Mexican family history.


Every family has a story to tell—lots of stories, in fact. Some stories get passed down and are told again and again, while others are lost and forgotten, buried in the records. Of course, anything that has been lost has the possibility of being found.

With newly indexed records available, more families with Mexican ancestry are uncovering clues about their families and are again telling their stories. Here are two stories of families who successfully used the records to learn more about their Mexican ancestors. 

Locating the Missing Puzzle Piece

How these people traced their Mexican ancestors.
Edgar Gomez had gathered quite a few pieces of his family story over the years. However, he and his family didn’t know much about his Italian-born, third great-grandfather, Giuseppe Palmieri (or José in Spanish), so Edgar focused his efforts there. He learned that José had emigrated from Italy to Mexico in the early 1900s, arriving at the port of Veracruz. José then settled in Coahuila, a state in northern Mexico, where he met Juana Mendoza. Together, they later moved to Mexico City.

Edgar had always assumed that José and Juana had married, but to be sure of this and to make sure he had identified the right people, he needed to find a marriage record. Locating this one record proved to be a bigger challenge than Edgar had anticipated. “For over a decade, we searched intermittently for this marriage record in Coahuila and Mexico City,” Edgar said. “We even paid for special searches in the Coahuila archives but to no avail. We could not find this marriage certificate, the official link in our family tree between Mexico and Italy and a way to confirm the stories we had pieced together.”

One day Edgar and his sister were sitting at their dining room table, once again discussing this missing record and wondering if José and Juana had, in fact, gotten married. Edgar opened his computer and went to José’s record on FamilySearch. “I clicked on the link to search in and was directed to a page with dozens of search results. After reviewing the first few, I noticed a civil registration marriage record from Mexico City. Intrigued, I clicked on it.” Edgar remembered that he had learned about a partnership between Ancestry and FamilySearch that had resulted in 72 million indexed civil registration records recently being released.

How to find your ancestors from Mexico.
He pulled up the black-and-white certificate and quickly printed a copy. His great-grandparents were indeed the couple listed, marrying in a time and place he had never considered: the marriage had taken place in a suburb of Mexico City when José and Juana were both in their 50s. “After years of searching, we suddenly discovered, right in front of us, the elusive marriage certificate we had been looking for,” Edgar said. “Without indexed records, we probably would have never found this.”

Bridging Gaps with Family History

Growing up as a child in Mexico, Lluvia was often dragged along on her mother’s family history research sessions. Her mother would pick up Lluvia from school and take her to the local family history center, where Lluvia played with toys in the corner while her mother reeled through microfilms, looking for clues about her family. As she got older, Lluvia would sometimes help her mother try to decipher the old handwriting so they could read the records. Lluvia thought it all seemed dreadfully boring. This picture of family history—sitting in a dark room, staring at handwriting on page after page of old microfilmed records—remained with Lluvia long after she became an adult.

Finding Mexican ancestors success stories
Only a few months ago, Lluvia logged into her FamilySearch account for the first time. “I couldn’t believe what I saw there!” Lluvia said. “All the research and work my mom had done was entered in, right there for me to see, along with other information. And FamilySearch had put together a list of things for me to do.” Lluvia realized that in the 30 or more years since she had been a small child watching her mother work at the family history center, a lot had changed in tracing Mexican ancestors.

All of Lluvia’s family lived in Mexico, but she decided that wasn’t going to stop her from gathering their stories. Lluvia became particularly interested in her mother’s mother, Rafaela, who passed away before Lluvia was born. Lluvia’s own mother had also passed away, but Lluvia remembered the stories her mother had told her. Lluvia then started talking to her mother’s sisters, who were all still living.

From this information and the information she found online, Lluvia began piecing together her family story. Rafaela had married her husband, Alberto, against the will of her mother, Facunda. Facunda disowned Rafaela, never interacting with her again, despite Rafaela’s repeated attempts to rekindle the relationship. Lluvia saw the broken family lines and wanted to restore them. “FamilySearch is also a place to share information about our families with each other,” Lluvia said.

As Lluvia talked to more relatives and located more records, she began uploading stories and pictures for her family—still primarily located in Mexico—to see. Family history became a way to bridge gaps, both those caused by time and distance and those caused by family rifts. “I am so excited for new records to be released,” she said. “Then I can learn even more about my family and help tell more stories.”

How to research your ancestors from Mexico.

Do you have Mexican ancestry? If so, see what you can discover about your family. Talk to family members, and then try searching some of the newly released records. Find out what family stories are waiting for you to discover them.

Understanding New Records from Mexico

Research your family with the new Mexican genealogy records on FamilySearch.

Where to Start Your Mexican Research

How to find my ancestors from Mexico.

New Records on FamilySearch

Research your family with the new Mexican genealogy records on FamilySearch.


Leslie Albrecht Huber

Leslie Albrecht Huber has written for dozens of magazines and journals on genealogy and other topics. She currently does communications consulting and contract work for nonprofit organizations. Leslie received a bachelor's degree in history from Brigham Young University and a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked as a professional genealogist, helpingothers trace their families, and has spoken on genealogy and history topics to groups across the United States.

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  1. This is a message for Edgar Gómez. I’m doing historical research into Italian antifascist groups in Mexico during the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s. I have found an interesting reference to an individual named Giuseppe Palmieri, a member of the Alleanza antifascista around 1930. I have not been able to identify this individual with any degree of certainty. Perhaps this is your relative. I would love to discuss this possibility with you.