Mexican Genealogy: Understanding Mexican Records

August 1, 2019  - by 
A mother and her son posing for a photo.

Are you trying to find your Mexican ancestors and begin your Mexican genealogy but don’t know where to start? One way to learn more about your ancestors is to search records for information about them.

Thankfully, record keepers in Mexico have been recording information for centuries. Do you know the name of a Mexican ancestor? Search our indexed Mexican records, and see what you can find.

Some records are especially helpful for Mexican genealogy. Understanding what these resources are—and how they can help you—can jumpstart your family history. Below are a few of these record collections and the information they can provide.

1930 Census—Basic Information

An old photo of a Mexican family that is standing for a photo.

The 1930 census has proven to be a key reference for many families working to trace their Mexican family lines for their Mexican genealogy. It includes 13 million people, which was more than 90 percent of the Mexican population in 1930. Apart from the Mexico City records, which were lost, the 1930 census is one of the most complete Mexican censuses.

The 1930 census is a good place to find some of the following information about your family:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Head of household
  • Birthplace
  • Marital status
  • Address

Finding your family members listed here can help you anchor them to a certain location, solidify family relationships, and build your family tree. The census usually contains basic information as well as information about a person’s religion and occupation.

Search the 1930 Mexican national census.

Civil Registration Records—Birth, Marriage, and Death Records

Civil registration records include civil registers (registro civil) of births (nacimientos), marriages (matrimonios), and deaths (defunciones). These records are especially helpful because they usually list multiple family members.

Church Records—Baptism, Marriage, and Burial Records

An old photo of a Mexican man and woman's wedding

Another good place to look for information, especially from before the 1800s, is Catholic Church records. Historically, most Mexicans were Catholic, so there is a good chance of finding your ancestors in church records.

In these records, you can find information from baptismal records that can include details such as the name of the child, date and place of the baptism, names of the parents, and names of the godparents and witnesses (who were often family members). Church marriage records and burial records can also provide valuable insights.

FamilySearch has a large collection of Catholic Church records, including 56 million indexed records, with around 14.6 million of them that include images of the actual records or documents. Find these records at the Search Historical Records section of our website.

Not all of our records have been indexed yet, so if you don’t find what you are looking for here, you can try our online catalog. Here you can search for the town in which your family attended church, and browse to discover additional collections.

Immigrants to the United States

Mexicans prepare to immigrate to the United States.

If you are tracing your immigrant ancestors from Mexico to the United States, then it might be worth your while to start with learning about your family in the United States.

Take what your family already knows about your Mexican ancestors. Are there papers or documents your relatives have stored away in a drawer? Any missing United States documents could be a great starting point for your research. Or maybe your grandparents remember details and stories from their childhood. What part of Mexico did your family come from?

Border Crossing—Names, Dates of Arrival, Nationality

Men wearing traditional sombreros.

Border crossing records could offer just the boost you need in your research, particularly if your family immigrated to the United States between 1895 and 1964.

Ancestry has indexed 6 million border crossing records. FamilySearch has the index for many of these, including a 1903–1957 collection. These records cover several entry points in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.

These records have a range of information details, but you can usually expect to find names, dates of arrival, nationality, and even the names of people traveling with them or relatives at home or in the United States.

If you have tried to find your Mexican ancestors before without success, now is the time to give it another go. With the availability of new records, you might be surprised to find something new.

Read More

Discover Your Mexican Heritage

A Mexican family smiles and looks at each other while eating at the table

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. I am researching ancestors that were in Nuevo Santander. Nuevo Santander was a region of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, covering the modern Mexican state of Tamaulipas and extending into modern-day southern Texas in the United States.
    I am interested in those partaining to South Texas and Tamaulipas.
    Please let me know when those from South Texas are available.

  2. I am looking for ancestors of my mother. I believe they lived somewhere in Puebla or Cancun..

  3. Im having difficulty searching, due to the numerous names attached to each person…. I know one is their fathers, mothers and spouses….. but which name to we look under??

  4. Need to know my family were we come from I was born in Toppenish Washington 1971 parents name is Gilberto Bella from mission Texas my mom is Guadalupe Rocha from McAllen Texas grandparents is a video Rocha and Maria Santos is my grandmother my dad’s parents is supposed to say Layla grandmother was Angelina lemon any information about my bloodline I’ll make you signal or I might native American my Mexican can you help

  5. I paid for my account but I can’t seem to get in to do my search, what do I do now

    1. Hi Trinidad! Thank you for your feedback. I’m not sure what account you are referencing. FamilySearch is free. Please contact FamilySearch Help for assistance in accessing your account.

  6. my mother was adopted by Scottish and Irish parents around 2027 name of Thompson and she was originally Wyatt