Central America, Colonial Census Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Title in the Language of the Record

Censos Coloniales de América Central

What is in This Collection?

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This collection includes records from 1607 to 1902.

This is a collection of various censuses of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico. The earlier censuses are handwritten in Spanish in narrative style; later censuses are written on formatted ledger-style forms.

According to the “Instituto Nacional de Identificación” (National Institute of Identification), the only relevant statistical activity in the colonial period was the population censuses carried out in the province of Guatemala by the Catholic Church ecclesiastical authorities, which began in the early 1500s. Some of these colonial censuses are actually membership records. These records are housed at the Archivo Histórico Arquidiocesano (Historical Archive of the Archdiocese of Guatemala) and have great importance in the historical reconstruction of the social, economic, and cultural process of Guatemala and the Central American region of the colonial period. Some of these earlier records are quite damaged and therefore, some information is missing.

The census was regularly taken by authorized citizens. They collected the information given to them from a member of the household, who may not have known the exact data. It is recommended to use the census information with caution as there may be some mistakes. However, the information gathered will help to find other information not found in vital records. The authorities’ mission for the census was that the statistics gathered would effectively contribute to the development and democracy of Guatemala.

It wasn’t until the beginning of Guatemala’s independence in 1821 that civil authorities began keeping statistical records of the country’s population.

Reading These Records

These records are written in Spanish; also see the section For Help Reading These Records for translation helps.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Central America, Colonial Records, 1607-1902.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Census records usually contain the following information:

  • House number, street, square and parish where family lived
  • Head of household
  • Names of person living in household
  • Marital or civil status
  • Age at time of census
  • Religion
  • Profession or occupation
  • Origin
  • Number of adult males and females
  • Number of male and female children
  • Literacy
  • Properties
  • Designation for white, Indian, native, or mixed race

The census is divided by municipalities or cantons.

Collection Content

Sample Images

How Do I Search This Collection?

You can search the index or view the images or both. Before using this collection it is helpful to know:

  • Your ancestor's given name and surname
  • Identifying information such as residence
  • Estimated marriage or birth year
  • Family relationships

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.

  1. Select Country
  2. Select Province
  3. Select City or Town
  4. Select Record Type and Years to view the images.

For more tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

For Help Reading These Records

For help reading these Spanish records, see the following resources:

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.

Related Wiki Articles

Known Issues With This Collection

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.


Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation
"Central America, Colonial Records, 1607-1902." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Central American General Archives, Guatemala City.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.