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Barcelona, Spain Genealogy

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Guide to Barcelona province ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

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Most of your genealogical research for Barcelona will be in two main record types: civil registration and church records. This article will teach you methods for locating and searching these two record groups.

History[edit | edit source]

The city was conquered by the Visigoths in the early 5th century, becoming for a few years the capital of all Hispania. The city was taken over in 801 by Charlemagne's son Louis, who made Barcelona the seat of the Carolingian "Hispanic March" (Marca Hispanica), a buffer zone ruled by the Count of Barcelona. On 6 July 985, Barcelona was sacked by the army of Almanzor. The sack was so traumatic that most of Barcelona's population was either killed or enslaved. In 1137, Aragon and the County of Barcelona merged in dynastic union by the marriage of Ramon Berenguer IV and Petronilla of Aragon, their titles finally borne by only one person when their son Alfonso II of Aragon ascended to the throne in 1162. Madrid became the centre of political power whilst the colonisation of the Americas reduced the financial importance of Mediterranean trade. Barcelona was a centre of Catalan separatism, including the Catalan Revolt (1640–52) against Philip IV of Spain. The great plague of 1650–1654 halved the city's population.

Much of Barcelona was negatively affected by the Napoleonic wars, but the start of industrialization saw the fortunes of the province improve. During the Spanish Civil War, the city, and Catalonia in general, were Republican. As the power of the Republican government and the Generalitat diminished, much of the city was under the control of anarchist groups. The anarchists lost control of the city to their own allies, the Communists and official government troops. The fall of the city on 26 January 1939, caused a mass exodus of civilians who fled to the French border. The resistance of Barcelona to Franco was to have lasting effects after the defeat of the Republican government. The autonomous institutions of Catalonia were abolished, and the use of the Catalan language in public life was suppressed. Barcelona the 12th most popular city destination in the world and the 5th amongest European cities. The population of Barcelona is roughly 1,604,555 people.[1]

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

  • Spanish civil registration records (government birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates) began in 1871.
  • Births, marriages, and deaths were recorded by the local Juzgado de la Paz, or Oficinia del Registro Civil. The records are still housed in their local municpal archives. In addition, Spain does have a national index or central repository for civil registration.
  • Some municipios (towns/cities) may have civil registration records beginning as early as 1837. Some of them have been microfilmed and/or digitized by FamilySearch.
  • Larger cities may have multiple civil registration districts, and smaller towns may have their own civil registration office, or belong to an office of a nearby town. To determine the political jurisdiction for the town where your ancestors came from, please see the Spain Gazetteers article.


Here are several different approaches to obtaining these certificates:

1. Online Digitized Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

The following records are available online from FamilySearch Historical Records:


2. Microfilm Copies of Civil Registration Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

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There might be microfilmed records available but not included in the online collections. Currently, they are being digitized, and plans are to complete that project by 2020. Check back occasionally to see if your records have become available. In the meantime, some of them might be available at a Family History Center near you. To find a microfilm:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Spain, Barcelona.
b. Click on "Places within Spain, Barcelona" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on the "Civil Registration" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

3. Ordering Certificates From the Ministerio de Justica[edit | edit source]

  • Researchers can solicit the Ministerio de Justicia online for copies of certificates.
  • For detailed information on how to order these records online, please see the article Order Spain Vital Records Online. It will take you through the process step by step, and includes translation of terms you will find in that process.

4. Writing to the Civil Registry of a Municipality[edit | edit source]

  • If a certificate copy request to the Ministerio de Justicia fails, the Juzgado de la Paz or Oficina del Registro Civil should be contacted .
  • Use the following address, filling in the parentheses with the specific information for your town :
Oficina del Registro Civil
(Street address: This link will give you addresses for all the civil registries in Barcelona.)
(postal code) (City)
Barcelona, Spain
  • Full name and the sex of the person sought.
  • Names of the parents, if known.
  • Approximate date and place of the event.
  • Your relationship to the person.
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, etc.).
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record.
  • Check or cash for the search fee (usually about $10.00).

Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases in this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.

Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

  • Catholicism's roots extend deep into Spain's history. Parish and diocesan records created by the Catholic Church in Spain have long been considered some of the richest genealogical records in the world. Ever since the Council of Trent, Catholic parish records have been consistently recorded, usually providing three generations in a single baptismal entry.
  • The vast majority of Spaniards are Catholic, and so almost every Spaniard can be found in the records of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was the primary record keeper of births, marriages, and deaths, until civil registration started in 1869.
  • Some church records have been lost or have deteriorated due natural disasters such as fire, flood, and earthquakes. Civil and political strife has also caused record loss, including during time of the Spanish Civil War.
  • The Catholic Church has created several different records. The most used in genealogical research include: baptisms (bautizos, bautismos), marriages (matrimonios), and burials (entierros, defunciones, fallecimientos). Other records include: confirmations (confimaciones) and pre-marriage investigations (expedientes matrimoniales, información matrimonial).
  • Tip: If you are researching after 1869, when Civil Registration started in Spain, both church and civil records should be searched since there may be information in one record that does not appear in the other.

1. Online Church Records[edit | edit source]

The following records are available online from FamilySearch Historical Records:

2. Microfilmed Records From the Family History Library[edit | edit source]

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There might be microfilmed records available but not included in the online collections. Currently, they are being digitized, and plans are to complete that project by 2020. Check back occasionally to see if your records have become available. In the meantime, some of them might be available at a Family History Center near you. To find a microfilm:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Spain, Barcelona.
b. Click on "Places within Spain, Barcelona" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Church Records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

3. Writing to a Catholic Priest for Church Records[edit | edit source]

Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting or visiting local parish or diocese archives in Spain. Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. This method is not always reliable. Officials might or might not respond.

Write a brief request in Spanish to the proper church using this address as guide, replacing the information in parentheses:

Reverendo Padre
Parroquia de (name of parish)
(street address) Search The Church in Spain by province (Selecciona la provincia) or parish (Nombre de la parroquia).
(postal code), (city), Barcelona
Spain


When requesting information, send the following:

  • Money for the search fee, usually $10.00
  • Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
  • Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
  • Approximate date and place of the event
  • Your relationship to the ancestor
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record


Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases in this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.]

Municipal Records[edit | edit source]

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

  • You do not have to be fluent in Spanish to read your documents. Genealogical records usually contain a limited vocabulary. Use this Spanish Genealogical Word List to translate the important points in the document. Reading handwriting skills are taught in the BYU Spanish Script Tutorial.
  • Online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:




Tips for finding your ancestor in the records[edit | edit source]

Effective use of church records includes the following strategies.

  • Search for the birth record of the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Then, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all family members.
  • Then repeat the process for both the father and the mother.
  • If earlier generations are not in the record, search neighboring parishes.
  • Wikipedia Collaborators, "Barcelona," In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcelona. Visited 28 September 2017.