Guatemala, Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Guatemala

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Guatemala, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1977
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Guatemala
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Flag of the Republic of Guatemala
LOC Guatemala in Central America and the Caribbean.png
Location of Guatemala
Record Description
Record Type: Catholic Church Records
Collection years: 1581-1977
Language: Spanish
Title in the Language: Registros Parroquiales de la Iglesia Católica en Guatemala
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Why Should I Look at This Collection?

Parish registers are the best records to identify individuals, parents, and spouses before 1877. After this date, civil authorities began registering vital events, and civil records become equally important. The information in civil records confirms and supplements the information in church records. For instance, the parish registers may list the godparents while the civil records may list the grandparents. The parish registers may be the only records available for genealogical research before civil registration was implemented in 1877. In order to find information in these church records, it is necessary to know the name of the ancestor and an approximate year of the birth.

What is in This Collection?

This collection of baptism, marriage and burial records from parishes throughout Guatemala covers the years of 1581 to 1977. For a complete list of all the parishes contained in the collection, see the Parishes in Guatemala coverage table.

Separate books were kept for the sacramental ordinances of baptism, marriage, and burial. The entries were normally made in chronological order. Some confirmations may be found within the baptisms. The earlier parish records were all handwritten in narrative form, and later records were handwritten in formatted entries.

The evangelization of Guatemalans by Catholic Church priests began in the 16th century. The records of baptisms, marriages, and burials they created help us become acquainted with the inhabitants and identify the importance of their families in the development of society. The history of cities in Guatemala is interwoven with the Catholic Church parish records. Most of the inhabitants of Guatemala were Roman Catholics; therefore, these records may well cover about 95% to 100% of the population.

Catholic Church parish registers were created by priests authorized to record the church ordinances of baptism, confirmation, marriage, death, and burial, and other ordinances performed for the members within the jurisdiction of the parish.

Catholic Church parish registers are the primary source for birth, marriage, and death records in Guatemala prior to the implementation of civil registration in 1877.

Reading These Records

These records are written in Spanish. For help reading these records see the following guides:

If you speak Spanish, the following free online lessons may be helpful to learn how to use the information in these records:

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Guatemala, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1977.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The following information may be found in these records:

Baptismal records

  • Place of the event
  • Date of the event
  • Name of the child
  • Age or date of birth of the child
  • Gender and legitimacy
  • Parents’ names
  • Sometimes the names of the grandparents
  • Names of the godparents

Marriage records

  • Place of the event
  • Date of the event
  • Names of the betrothed
  • Age, marital status, and sometime the race of the betrothed
  • Birthplace or place of residence
  • Gender and legitimacy
  • Parents’ names
  • Witnesses’ names

Burial records

  • Name of the deceased
  • Burial date (often the same day as the death)
  • Age at time of death
  • Names of parents or spouse
  • Residence of the deceased
  • Cause of death

Collection Content

Sample Images

How Do I Search This Collection?

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • Name of the person you're looking for
  • Approximate date of the event

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

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


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. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct
  • For death records, the information in records is usually reliable, but depends upon the knowledge of the informant
  • Regarding marriage and death records, name changes, shortened names, or nicknames may have been used by your ancestors, so pay attention to other relationships (parents, spouse, siblings, children, etc.) that can confirm whether you have the right person/record
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify
  • Continue to search the indexes and records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have lived in the same area or a nearby area

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • For death records, the information in records is usually reliable, but depends upon the knowledge of the informant
  • For marriage and death records, name changes, shortened names, or nicknames may have been used by your ancestors, so pay attention to other relationships (parents, spouse, siblings, children, etc.) that can confirm whether you have the right person/record
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent
  • Repeat this process for each new generation you identify
  • Continue to search the indexes and records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have lived in the same area or a nearby area
  • Hispanic Genealogy Research community on Facebook is a page sponsored by FamilySearch and here you may also post a question or upload an image of a document for further assistance.
  • Investigación Genealógica en Guatemala is another FamilySearch research community page on Facebook where you can post questions and upload images of documents. The majority of the posts on this page are in Spanish but you are welcome to post on the page in English. Be sure to click like on the page on

Record Finder

Consult the Guatemala Record Finder to find other records

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

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

"Guatemala, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1977." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Parroquias Católicas, Guatemala (Catholic Church parishes, Guatemala).

Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
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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