Understanding Mexican Records

January 25, 2018  - by 
How to research and find your Mexican ancestors on FamilySearch


Through FamilySearch’s collaboration with Ancestry.com, 65 million Mexican records, with more than 200 million searchable names, are now available through Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org (for LDS subscribers), and over 5,000 FamilySearch centers worldwide.

What does this mean to you? If you have Mexican ancestors, locating those ancestors has never been easier—and it’s getting easier all the time.

What the Newly Indexed Records Contain

A Lesson in Geography

The Federal Republic of Mexico is divided into 32 estados, or states, along with the Distrito Federal, or federal district.

Each state is divided into municipios, similar to counties in the U.S. Most civil registration records are kept at this level.

Each municipio is divided into cities, towns, and villages.

How to find your Mexican ancestors using FamilySearch records.

These indexed records include civil registration records that cover all states except Baja California Norte, Sinaloa, and Tabasco. Civil registration, or vital records kept by the government, began in 1859 in Mexico, although these records weren’t kept regularly until 1867. Civil registration records are important because of how many people were included and how much information the records contain. Civil registers (registro civil) include births (nacimientos), marriages (matrimonios), and deaths (defunciones).

Civil registration can be a rich source of information about your family. The records may contain the following information:

  • Names of people at the event
  • Ages
  • Dates and places of the event 
  • Parents’ names or other family members’ names
  • Witnesses
  • Occupations
  • Residences

Of course, this is just the beginning of the kinds of records you can use to find information about your family. To learn about other types of records that are available and how to access them, see the article “Getting Started on Your Mexican Research.”

A Note on the Use of the Double Surname

If you haven’t researched in Mexico before, you might not be familiar with the double surname. Often, names in Mexico will include the given name followed by the father’s surname and then the mother’s surname. This practice began in the early 20th century, and you can actually see the names in the records change as the practice was adopted. For family reseachers, being given the mother’s maiden name is an incredible benefit. Keep these naming patterns in mind when you perform searches in the new collections.

Tips for Successful Searches

  • Use only one surname for best results.
  • Note that the records are grouped by state, so you don’t have to worry about knowing the name of the village if your family was from a small location.
  • Always view the image of the original document. You may find additional details such as names of other relatives (e.g. grandparents), occupations, addresses, causes of death, etc.
  • Watch out for common names. Look for clues that can help you verify that you have the right person, such as the names of other family members.
  • Watch out for typos. If you are not finding what you’re looking for, try using wildcard characters. That is, use an asterisk * to replace one or more characters.
    Example: The surname Morales may have been indexed as Marales. If you search for M*r*l*s, you will get results for Morales, Marales, Mereles, Mireles, Morelos, and so on.
    By using an asterisk instead of vowels in a word, you may be able to find your ancestors, even if their names were spelled incorrectly in the index.

Read more about how to search the FamilySearch site.

How to use FamilySearch record hints to find your Mexican ancestors.
Hints in Family Tree

In addition to being able to search for your ancestors in these new records, you may begin to see hints from these records in Family Tree. Look for this icon, and click it to review the hints. Make sure to view the image of the original document. You may find additional details such as names of other relatives (e.g. grandparents), occupations, addresses, causes of death, etc. Then add any new information about your ancestors to Family Tree, and attach the record as a source for your ancestor.

New Records on FamilySearch

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

Where to Start Your Mexican Research

How to find my ancestors from Mexico.

How Others Succeeded

Search historic Mexican records to find your ancestors.


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. The use of the asterisk as an “unknown” letter is very old. I am a bit surprised to see this suggestion (as was once done 50-60+ years ago) for Mexican (and perhaps by default, Hispanic) records in lieu of what we have come to understand as the “Soundex” search standard (x123). What’s up? Seems like this would work on Scandinavian and other records spellings (especially those using diacritical marks) might cause confusion. Haven’t seen this suggestion in a very long time.